With OSHA’s new Walking and Working Surfaces Rule taking effect on January 17, 2017, many employers are concerned with how the new rules might affect them. Most of this rule focuses on ladder safety, fall protection, rolling stock, body belts, etc. Hidden away in this rule is the true definition which our industry can use to catapult our businesses upward offering products and solutions which contribute to a cleaner, safer workplace thus helping to reduce accidents, especially lost time accidents!
OSHA recognizes that accidents involving slip, trips and falls in the workplace have been increasing in frequency. One out of every six (6) slip, trip and fall accidents leads to lost time away from work for a valuable employee. On average the injured employee will miss 31 work days while recuperating. This has become a $70 Billion dollar problem to employers.
OSHA states: “Walking and working surfaces” means any surface on which employees perform or gain access to their job duties or upon which employees are required or allowed to walk or work while performing assigned tasks.” This, along with the OSHA General Duty Rule (employers must provide their employees with a workplace free of recognized hazards) will play an integrate part in providing the guidance to our customers and prospects for proper floor matting in their places of business.
In order for OSHA to enforce such rules, they rely on the latest versions of national consensus standards for guidance and as references in creating safe workplaces. One such standard is, ANSI/NFSI B101.6 Standard Guide For Commercial Entrance Matting In Reducing Slips, Trips And Falls. This standard (along with other consensus standards) will be relied on to guide OSHA during their on-site inspections.
OSHA looks to employers to provide a “Qualified Person” who is knowledgeable and familiar with all relevant manufacturers’ specifications and recommendations’; is capable of identifying existing or potential hazards in specific surroundings or working conditions which may be hazardous or dangerous to employees; and has been trained for the specific task assigned. When work is to be supervised by a qualified person, the qualified person shall have the necessary authority to carry out the assigned work responsibilities.” There is no industry more qualified of providing the professional people and audits to assist customers and prospects alike with providing any and all documentation needed to satisfy an OSHA inquiry or on-site visit. Being proactive is paramount!
Remember, OSHA is very focused on musculoskeletal disorders and is addressing ergonomics in the workplace. Anti-fatigue matting needs to be addressed under this standard. It is well documented (JAMA November 2003) that worker lost productivity and related health problems are costing American employers more than $61 Billion annually. The average employee costs their employer more than 23 days yearly (an average of 4 hours a week) due to reduced performance from discomfort. Companies who sample this product to safety managers and safety committees are doing their customer’s a great service as they grow their own business. Good partnerships lead to long lasting business relationships. No business who provides genuine value to a customer can go wrong!
Place the right mat in the right place and let it do the right thing. Make sure the size you recommend meets everyone’s expectation. OSHA looks at a dirty floor and considers it to be as dangerous as a wet floor. Mats need to be of sufficient size to remove not only moisture from the bottom of a person’s feet, they need to remove to soil also. Provide the customers who need it, with a regularly scheduled audit. Document deficiencies and provide recommendations’ for correction. Dot your “I’s” and “T’s”. Protect yourself as you protect your customer.
Fred Anderson is the V.P. of Operations for Pilgrim Dust Control, Inc.