Every day we take thousands of steps. We walk on many different surfaces and move between heights and machines. We move between indoors and outdoors. Usually, we are not paying any attention to what is beneath our feet, as walking is almost second nature and done on autopilot. However, most likely, the surface area beneath our feet is constantly changing and at any moment, if we are not paying attention, we can misstep, stumble, and even fall. These falls can be minor, or they can be dangerous, especially between heights if there is not proper guardrails or support systems in place.
If you think about all the movements you make during the course of your day, you will soon realize your workstation goes far beyond your immediate work area to include the environment around you and the various places you go throughout your day. For example walking between work areas, in and out of storage rooms, up and downstairs. At any one of these places a walking surface can change between texture and height, and may even expose you to outdoor elements like rain or mud. Other potential hazards include traffic, if your workplace is busy, or poor housekeeping making you navigate a cluttered work environment. All of these can be problematic. To work safely, do a walk through with your supervisor to identify potential problem areas so you will be more aware of them as you go through your workday.
FALL PROTECTION SYSTEMS
In some work situations, you may be performing tasks at various heights. In these cases, a fall protection system must be in place. This system can vary depending on how high of the ground you are but include devices like a guardrail system, a safety net or harness, even a ravel restraint system might be used along with a personal arrest system. OSHA now requires a fall arrest system for going up ladders if you ascent more than 24 feet. In addition to the protection systems designed to break a possible fall, other protection systems should be used including proper footwear and even gloves if they help you secure a grip. Any time you are working on a surface that is 4 feet or higher off the ground, you should be using a fall arrest system. Discuss with your supervisor the various types of protection available to you.
INSPECTION AND TRAINING
We live in a fast-paced world that is constantly pushing us to do more and get more done. Unfortunately, this causes us to work fast, walk fast, and lose our awareness because we are focused on completion and we forget to slow down and pay attention to the environment around us. We may take the safeguards that are in place for granted and forget to inspect them to be sure they are still working correctly and not compromised. Complacency can kill if, for example, you assume the guard rail you lean over every day is sturdy when in fact it had been broken and not reported, and it falls when you lean against it. A regular walk through and discussion of potential hazards with your co-workers can go a long way to keeping you safe. You also want to pay attention when going between different environments or working in the rain or snow as these environmental changes can quickly make for a slippery surface