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December 16, 2019
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Walking and Working Surfaces

Slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of workplace injuries. A slip occurs when the foot skids on a wet or slippery walking-working surface, causing a worker to fall forward or backward.

A walking-working surface means any horizontal or vertical surface that an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location.

A trip occurs when an obstacle stops the foot and the worker's momentum causes his or her to fall forward.

The following information reflects the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Walking-Working Surface Standard:

  • Employers are expected to maintain the floors of work areas in clean, dry, organized, and sanitary condition. Make efforts to ensure that walking-working surfaces are free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, product spills, snow, and ice.
  • Employers are expected to ensure that each walking-working surface can support the maximum intended load. The maximum intended load is the total load of all employees, equipment, vehicles, tools, materials, and other loads the employer reasonably anticipates to be applied to a walking-working surface at any one time.
  • A safe means of access and egress must be provided to and from walking-working surfaces. Egress is defined as a continuous and unobstructed way of exit travel from a work area. Employers must ensure that walkways are free and clear of debris, materials, or any other items that may restrict access to and from the work area.
  • Maintaining walking-working surfaces in a safe condition requires that work areas be inspected on a regular basis. Deficiencies and hazardous conditions should be corrected or repaired before workers use the walking-working surfaces.
  • If repairs cannot be made immediately, the hazard must be guarded to prevent employees from using the surface until the hazard is corrected or repaired.


Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

This Safety Tip of The Week was originally printed on June 25, 2018.

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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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