As we have previously discussed, falls can be tragic, as they account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths in industry and cause other secondary accidents. So, while the average person may not anticipate a simple fall to be the instigator of their own doom, it is essential that the necessary steps be taken to prevent falls from occurring.
However, it would be presumptuous to assume that any single person can be alert and prepared for every potential fall hazard. For most, walking is a simple task, acquired during infancy and supported by the engineering of our bodies, but environments and walking surfaces differ from one another, introducing frequent opportunities for any individual’s gait to falter. The solution for this problem is to have those in charge of walkable surfaces manage them so as to limit any types of falls. For industrial and workplace situations, this involves identifying and handling obstructions and other hazards.
These types of hazards include, according to ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2017 – Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access; Workplace, Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; Stairs and Guardrail/Handrail Systems, floor, roof, or wall openings, platforms, runways, ramps, fixed stairs, exposed edges, open risers, pits, runways, and other areas or places where danger exists of persons or objects falling from elevated walking and work surfaces.
ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2017 establishes safety guidelines in industrial and workplace situations for protecting individuals from the aforementioned hazards as they pursue their foreseeable duties in walking and working areas. Through the standard’s guidance, this involves personnel fall protection, the installation of railings, and other fall mitigation efforts.
It is important to note that the scope of this document applies to more than industrial settings, and it is intended for different workplace settings used and occupied mainly by workers. For example, as exemplified in the supplementary information of the standard, ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2017 can be used for stage areas in theaters occupied by stage hands and performers.
While the document covers many hazardous walking areas, it specifically excludes “private residences; escalators; moving walks; floor openings occupied by elevators, manlifts, dumbwaiters, conveyors, machinery, containers; the loading and unloading areas of truck, railroad and marine docks; self-propelled motorized mobile equipment; mobile ladder stands and mobile work platforms; scaffolds used in the construction, alteration, demolition and maintenance of buildings and structures; ladders and construction work areas; and marina and floating tank ladders.”
ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2017, as the newest edition of the safety standard for workplace walking and working surfaces, contains several changes from previous edition. The revision has several technical improvements over the previous version of the standard, as well as two new definitions and four new illustrations to help clarify text.
Many falls from elevation are initiated by slips, which generally are caused by the unexpected loss of traction between the footwear bottom and floor material. Slip and fall accidents are commonly associated with floor surface characteristics, footwear traction properties, environmental factors, and human factors (such as an individual’s gait). Another standard in the ANSI/ASSE A1264 series, ANSI/ASSE A1264.2-2012 – Provision of Slip Resistance on Walking/Working Surfaces, addresses the first three of these factors.
ANSI/ASSE A1264.2-2012 establishes provisions for reasonably safe working and walking environments for persons pursuing foreseeable activities, addressing footwear applications, appropriate lighting (for visibility while walking), floor mats, and warnings and barricades. This standard is also concerned with two primary phenomena that can result in higher slipmeter readings: adhesion (involving dry surfaces) and sticktion (involving wet surfaces).
ANSI/ASSE A1264.1-2017 – Safety Requirements for Workplace Walking/Working Surfaces and Their Access; Workplace, Floor, Wall and Roof Openings; Stairs and Guardrail/Handrail Systems and ANSI/ASSE A1264.2-2012 – Provision of Slip Resistance on Walking/Working Surfaces can be acquired together as the ANSI/ASSE A1264 Safety for Workplace Surfaces Package, which is available only on the ANSI Webstore.