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Access Platforms: Creating A Safe Working Environment

April 27, 2012

 

Access platforms are an integral part of manufacturing facilities, food processing facilities, and in countless other industries.  Making sure that these access platforms are safe for employees to use is a critical part of a safety plan.  In order to keep employees safe, you must make sure that the items they use are safe.

By following these simple guidelines for access platforms and scaffolding set forth by OSHA, you can create a safe working environment for all:

  • Are the access platforms and scaffolding able to support up to four times its own weight?
    • These platforms must be able to hold the weight of workers and their tools.  If the platform is not able to hold at least that much weight it may collapse, causing damage to property and injury to employees.
  • If the platform is suspended, are the supporting devices able to withstand up to four times the load weight?
    • Devices used to support an access platform must also be able to withstand the weight of an employee and the tools they may be using.  Injuries can result from unsuitable support devices or improper installation.
  • Are the working surfaces of the access platforms fully decked or planked?
    • In order to create a safe surface, the working areas must be completely solid.  Missing parts of an access platform may cause workers to trip and fall or tools to drop through among other things.  Adding a slip resistant surface will enhance the security of the platform, especially if oils, water and other types of lubricants will be present on the platform.
  • Are employees protected against falling objects, tools and other forms of debris?
    • In addition to wearing hardhats, it’s a good idea to have platforms equipped with toe boards, screens and guardrails to prevent tools and other items from falling to the ground.  Netting of some sort may also be used to catch items that make it past the safety features built into the platforms.
  • Is the platform secure?
    • The platform must be securely fastened so it will not tip.  It must be secured by ties, braces or equivalent devices.
  • If cross braces are not used, is a ladder or other means of access provided for employees to ascend to the platform?
    • If ladders are provided, the bottom rung must be no higher than 24 inches from the support of the access platform.  Slip resistant ladder rungs may be used to increase traction, especially if the platforms are located where debris or moisture may be tracked by employee’s shoes or machines.
  • If the access platform is higher than 35 feet, are rest platforms provided?
    • Rest platforms create breaks and allow for employees to rest when climbing a higher platform.  This can help reduce worker fatigue and prevent slips and falls from a high altitude.
  • Is the access platform or scaffold inspected regularly throughout the day?
    • Platforms must be inspected throughout the day to make sure that it is capable of withstanding daily capacities.  The access platforms must be inspected by a trained professional who can recognize potential hazards and alert the staff to these hazards before major incidents occur.  Employees who are using access platforms should also be trained on how recognize hazards that are associated with the type of platform.
  • Are guardrails or some other means of keeping employees safe from falls installed on the platforms?
    • Employees may become dizzy and disoriented at high altitudes, therefore guardrails or some form of protection must be installed to protect workers against harm.
  • Is a slip resistant surface applied to the base of the access platform?
    • Applying a slip resistant surface to the platform will help decrease slips and falls.  Ladder rungs, plates, plank and grating may all be coated with a slip resistant surface to help increase traction and keep workers on their feet.
  • Are there any additional requirements that need to be identified or addressed?
    • Additional requirements should be identified and addressed as soon as they have been discovered to reduce potential hazardous situations.

Slip resistant products may be installed throughout facilities to increase safety, not just on access platforms.  Adding a non-slip surface to catwalks, stairways, ladders and entrances will help to increase productivity and create a safe working environment for employees.  SlipNOT® Metal Safety Flooring manufactures an all metal slip resistant surface that can be used for these types of applications and more.  The high traction surface is slip resistant in all directions and is applied to metal substrates to create a total shoe to surface contact.

 

OSHA CHECKLIST FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

http://www.scosha.llronline.com/PDFS/construction%20check%20list.pdf. April 2012.

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