Lesson 3:

Walking and Working Surfaces



In this lesson you will learn the following:



Reading Assignment

Along with the online lecture, read Subpart D in the OSHA manual for General Industry.





All walking and working surfaces in the workplace can present a hazardous situation for all employees. Loose carpets, ladders, stairways, ramps, scaffolds, and slick floors caused from spills or other liquids are all considered hazardous surfaces. Hazardous surfaces can cause slips, trips and falls, as well as, cuts, bruises, strains and broken bones as a result of the slip, trip, or fall.

In this section we will discuss the controls and actions needed to help prevent or eliminate those types of hazards. The first thing that is needed, is to “recognize” what the hazards are. Then identify the hazard, assess the situation and try to prevent these hazards from causing accidents, by the use of controls.



Ways to Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls

We should practice safe walking skills. If it is necessary to walk in wet areas, we should take precautions by taking shorter steps, walk slower and pay attention to where we put our feet. Try to point your feet outward and maintain your center of balance. If you spill something, try to clean it up immediately or if you see a spill, clean it up yourself or ask for help if it is a large spill. Do not allow oil and grease to get on the floor of a shop or pump building, or in walking or working areas. If the spill is oil or grease, immediately add an “Oil dry” product to the spill to absorb it, (this is a type of clay “kitty litter” type of substance.)

A large percentage of injuries from falls occur in offices, even people who are employed in “high risk” jobs are most often injured from falls than injury caused by the “high risk” job. Walking is such as “automatic” action for most of us, we don't slow down to pay attention where we are walking or what we are walking through. Most slips and trips eventually will end up with a fall.

A slip is caused by “too little traction or friction between the surface you are walking on and the soles of your shoes/boots.” Commonly, wet surfaces will cause a slip. The wet surface could be from a spill or from weather conditions.



Ways to Help Control Slips, Trips and Falls

Try to wear the appropriate footwear for the job. Abrasive strips (stick-on) should be applied to the edge of steps and other known slick areas. A type of rug called a “pig mat” can be used on the floor, where the surface stays wet frequently, or where water must flow over the floor to a drain. Keep signs handy to put up for everyone to be cautious of a “wet floor,” especially in high traffic areas, during bad weather. Always maintain a three-point stance or contact when mounting or dismounting any type of equipment. This position will enable you to keep your center of balance much better.

Inclement weather can create slick steps and floors, particularily at doorways and entrances. We should be aware of these conditions and slow down our walk and try to wear boot/shoes with non -slip soles. Use a “snow or ice melt” material on all outdoor steps and walks to help clear them as soon as possible. Be careful when entering a building , wet soles of shoes and dry floors can cause slips and falls quite easily.

We shouldn't leave boxes, etc. laying around, or in aisles or walkways. Good housekeeping is very important in helping to prevent trips and falls. Do not leave tools or other materials on steps or stairs, or blocking doorways where people must enter. Any surface that is more than 30" above the floor must have a guardrail or handrail.

Here is a good example of walking and working surfaces, that really happened at a water plant. The day shift operators at a water plant had been making repairs during, the day-shift. While accessing the work area, they removed several sections of a “grate” type catwalk to make the repairs. All pieces of the grate were put back, except for one short section, that gave access to a valve, which was still open and would need to be closed later in the evening. After dark that evening the 3-11 operator was crossing the basin and not looking where he/she was going, and fell into the hole. Fortunately the hole was only a couple of feet deep, or more serious injuries could have occured, as it was the operator ended up with a bruised shin, elbows and a bloody nose. All because no signs or tape was used to surround the hole, at night it was too dark to see very well, and with no warning, in fell the operator.



A Safety Inspection Checklist for Walkways and Surfaces

from OSHA Small Businesses




In this lesson we learned different methods to prevent slips, trips and falls. The first thing to do is to identify the hazard- then try to find ways to control or prevent an accident from happening. (Ex. Putting adhesive strips on stairs to help prevent slips or falls.) Next find ways to eliminate someone from tripping and falling (ex. By using handrails or guardrails.) Always maintain the “three point” contact stance when getting onto or off of a piece of equipment. This will help you to maintain your center of gravity and not be as likely to fall. Always use a compound on an oil or grease spill to help prevent falls and cleanup any spills as soon as possible.




OSHA Manual for General Industry
Hazard Module - OSHA
Workforce Safety - OSHA - Small Business Checklist, June 2003




Answer the following questions and email your answers to your instructor at rmoore@me.vccs.edu.

  1. Design a device that will permit running an extension cord across a corridor without creating a tripping hazard or allowing the cord to be crushed.
  2. Explain why we can walk over stones, tree roots, and other obstacles on a mountain trail and then trip on a loose board on the steps at home.
  3. An old observation tower is located on land recently made into a park. To make it usable by the public, the old stairs inside the tower have to be replaced. The inside diameter of the tower is 4.0 meters. Design stairs to meet the standards.
  4. Explain why a ladder set at an angle of 45° to 50° is very difficult to climb or descend even if the ladder is firmly anchored.





Please take the quiz for Subpart D: Walking and Working Surfaces. When you have gotten all answers correct, print the quiz and mail or fax it to the instructor, Rosa-lee Moore. You may also take the quiz online and directly submit it into the database for a grade.

Rosa-lee Moore 276-523-7486 (fax)


3441 Mt. Empire Rd.
Big Stone Gap, VA 24219