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Safety Through Design

July 7, 2016

Stairways are an essential part of large buildings.  These stairways, built with metal stairs in some cases, can become slick and oily in certain situations, creating hazardous walking conditions for workers and visitors alike.  Creating a safe workplace from blueprints to building is dependent on owners, designers and employers working together to create a safe environment.  In order to protect workers and visitors, fall hazards must be thought of and designed out of new buildings in the initial planning stages.

A list of sustainable safety design principles were developed first by the military/aerospace industry and have been incorporated by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Navy to create safe working conditions from the initial planning stages.  These principles are as follows:

  • Eliminate the hazard if possible- Stairways cannot be designed completely out of buildings.  Steps to prevent slips and falls on metal steps must be taken, such as installing anti-slip nosings or treads can keep workers upright even in wet or oily conditions.
  • Provide engineering design solutions to prevent the worker from making contact with the hazard- Again, it is impossible to eliminate stairways but you can increase the safety of metal stairs by using anti-slip products to ensure safe walking surfaces.
  • Provide additional safety factors to minimize the hazard- Painting nosings, installing extra lighting and providing handrails can increase the visibility of nosings and steps, helping workers to keep their sense of balance.
  • Provide redundancy to confine the hazard- make sure all the steps and stairways throughout a building are uniform and follow the standards set forth by OSHA.  OSHA was created to establish employer responsibilities for their specific industries and to create the minimum regulation for the reasonable care of that industry.

Hazards can be eliminated through proper planning and design in the initial planning stages.  SlipNOT® nosings, treads, grating and plate have all been used for metal steps and metal stairways to prevent slips and falls in various industries.  From food processing and utilities to steel mills and wastewater treatment plants, SlipNOT® products help retain traction on stairs and keep workers on their feet.

Facility Safety Magazine “Design the Hazards Away” www.fsmmag.com February 2011.

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