Floor holes can be found inside buildings, on rooftops, and outdoors. "Floor Holes" aren't always just holes in the floor that someone might accidentally step into. Floor Holes, like unguarded skylights, can be deadly and this is one area where many workers forget to take the necessary safety measure to protect themselves and their co-workers, or at minimum throw some caution tape up around the hole and think that is enough.
Not convinced? Here are two incidents that should give everyone a wake up call.
OSHA Standard 1926.500(b) defines a hole as a gap or a void 2 inches (5.1 cm) or more in its least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.
Examples of floor holes, besides the obvious 'hole in the floor' are:
In the NIOSH report below, a laborer died after falling through an unguarded skylight. Emergency personnel responded within 5 minutes but the injuries were too severe and the young man did not survive the fall.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:
OSHA Standard 1926.501(b)(4) states that Each employee on walking/working surfaces shall be protected from falling through holes...and from tripping in or stepping into or through holes (including skylights)...
Never assume everyone will see the hole and step around it, or think that caution tape is enough. A slip or trip near the hole can result in a serious injury or worse. Proper covers, guardrails and signage must be utilized on and near floor hole hazards.
CAPublicHealth has put together a sobering video that explains events that led to a roofing supervisor's death after he fell 30 feet through a warehouse roof skylight. Photographs from the fatality investigation are supplemented with scenes recreated by co-workers that were there that day. This is a true story, told by the workers who were there the day Joe fell to his death. Joe has worked for the same roofing company for 25 years.
The video is less than 6 minutes long. Roofing and construction companies are encouraged to include this video as part of their comprehensive safety training program, or at least show this video during a short toolbox talk if possible. Even veteran employees need to participate in weekly safety meetings.
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