Employee Safety: Stairways & Walkways
Stairways and walkways in all organizations are areas of risk and improper use can cause injuries and unnecessary accidents. These passageways do not typically get the maintenance they need, since they are access ways and not work areas.
Here are safety tips to keep in mind when inspecting and up-keeping stairways and walkways:
- Keep all stairs and walkways clear of debris and potentially slippery substances such as: ice, snow, water, oil or grease.
- Keep passageways free of tools, equipment and other materials. Always practice good housekeeping in non-production areas.
- Shop or maintenance offices should be equipped with standard railings to protect open sides. Railings should have top rails with a vertical height of 42", mid rails, posts and toe boards.
- Your company might have a small office located within a larger building with its roof area that is used for storing materials. Review the space's access and guarding. Make sure there is a full stairway or ladder access. This area should also be equipped with perimeter railings. It is wise to have an engineer calculate the maximum load the roof area can handle.
- Standard handrails must be provided for stairs with four or more steps. Handrails should be 30" to 34" from the top of the stair tread, measured in line with the face of the riser.
- Handrails can become loose and may need to be re-secured or replaced. Do not assume someone else will repair or report it. Immediately mention any problem to maintenance or your supervisor. If you have time and expertise, take the time to fix it yourself.
- Where there are elevation changes in walkways, highlight the change so it is plainly visible. Distinguishing the change alerts those unfamiliar with the walkway to the hazard.
- Secure electrical cords and hoses so that they do not lie across walkways. If electrical cords must be laid across walkways, use approved cord covers whenever possible. Consider setting up a caution sign or flagging to alert individuals of cords or hoses in their path until a permanent solution can be put into place.
- Stairway hazards or slippery walkways can appear within minutes or overnight. Take action to remedy the problem when you see it.
By following these safety tips, you can reduce the likelihood of an injury on a stairway or walkway in your facility.
Note: Be sure to check your State and Local Statutes for specific height variances and review OSHA Mandates on height and depth requirements.