Falls: Floor Openings Safety

Falls: Floor Openings

It has to be a terrible feeling. One moment your feet are on what seems to be a solid surface, the next moment they’re in mid-air as you begin a fall to a level far below.

That’s how a floor opening fall typically happens. A worker in a plant or at a construction site falls through an opening to a surface below or into industrial machinery on a lower level.

Openings in floors and roofs are often part of the work environment during construction, renovation and demolition. They must be guarded and securely covered so no one can accidentally step in. Half measures won’t do it. Many have died in incidents such as these:

  • A worker cleaning up after a roofing crew picks up a piece of plywood, not realizing it covers an opening, into which he falls.
  • A worker passing through a renovation site steps on a too-small covering placed over a hole and not secured. The board breaks or one end tips into the hole. The worker falls down the opening.

The floor opening cover must be capable of supporting any load placed on it. It should be secured positively so it cannot be easily removed, and it should be labelled. The cover should go over the entire opening unless guardrails are installed.

*Tool Box Talk based on GC submitted by Steve Sampson – Exelon Mystic Station.