As the old saying goes: “There’s Safety in Numbers.”
But today, we are going to talk about: “There’s Safety in Structures.”
Industrial Facilities have lots of structures that need to be safe. So let’s talk through some of them.
It is obvious to most that fall and slip hazards are the cause of many industrial injuries. But as I like to say: it is not a reality until it is your reality…
From my own personal experience, I can truly attest to the physical pain, temporary disability, long term effects and the high costs caused by a simple slippage zero level fall, as it is called.
In my case; it was slipping on a wet floor surface that required extensive surgery and long term recovery.
The disturbing outcome of this simple fall was an Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury with symptoms that lasted over a year of which, I was very fortunate to have recovered from.
Going from the ground floor up to the roof of industrial facilities, walking surface slip hazards can exist on any level and at any level.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Standard 1910 Subpart D – Walking-Working Surfaces addresses these hazards. A link for its table of contents is provided as follows.
Under OSHA 1910.22, Slip Hazards are addressed on walking surface conditions specifically as follows:
The floor of each workroom is maintained in a clean and, to the extent feasible, in a dry condition. When wet processes are used, drainage must be maintained and, to the extent feasible, dry standing places, such as false floors, platforms, and mats must be provided.
Walking-working surfaces are maintained free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice.
In all of the industries we work in, such as the: Pulp and Paper, Food, Building Products, Chemical and Power industries, we have observed walkway slippage hazards.
In the Field
One example of this is a recent project that Pearl Engineering engineered for safe access to equipment located on a plant’s sloped standing seam metal roof in the northern climates.
As is often done in many industrial facilities, roof surfaces that were originally intended only to shed water and snow have become additional floors for the installation and access of exterior equipment. In doing so, the sloped metal surfaces which are purposely slick to allow positive drainage and be self-cleaning have unintentionally become hazardous walking surfaces. Typically, this hazard is not the cause of a fall from the roof edge resulting in a severe injury or fatality. More often it is a slippage fall that can still result in a work loss injury such as a broken bone, back injury, concussion or a long term disability.
Traditionally, in order to provide a safe walking surface on a sloped roof, a raised steel support structure would be installed, requiring numerous penetrations through the standing seam metal roof decking. This method is costly to install and creates a high probability for roof leaks.
Pearl Engineering specified a roof mounted walkway and handrail system with slip-resistant grating that could be clamped down to the standing seam metal decking. By doing so, no penetrations were made into the decking and an expensive raised support structure was not required. In addition by connecting the roof mounted walkways to an existing stairway to up to equipment at the roof eve and using integrated caged ladders with swing gates from differential roof levels, we were able to provide two means of exiting off of the roof at any point. This design and system provided a cost effective solution for this unsafe application.
Please take the time to look at your plant’s walkway surface conditions. This should include on the roof surfaces where roof-mounted equipment may be located (including in the winter). If you find them to be possibly hazardous, whether due to ice, water, chemicals or dust, please find ways to improve them.
If you need our help in conducting an audit of your plant’s walking surfaces or formulating a solution for some hazardous levels, please let us know if we can help you.
If you would also like us to come to do a presentation for your plant on slip hazards, we would be glad to do that.