ASTM F1637-21: Standard Practice For Safe Walking Surfaces

Reflection of a safe walking surface following ASTM F1637-21.

Trips and falls can happen anywhere. In 2019, there were 244,000 workplace injuries from falls, slips, and trips, according to the National Safety Council. Uneven surfaces, slippery surfaces, and walkways changing in level can cause trips and falls. ASTM F1637-21 addresses and covers these common hazards for new and existing buildings and structures.

Some central safety considerations ASTM F1637-21 covers are illumination, possible changes in walkway levels, and mats and runners on walkways. Often, when it is overcast or dark outside, it can be hard to see a walkway. Section 5.5.1 addresses the proper illumination of these walkway surfaces, as well as parking lots. Changes in walkway levels can also prove to be hazardous when walking. ASTM F1637-21 covers specific measures for when a change in level is greater than ¼ of an inch. This standard goes into depth about mats and runners to minimize the hazards that they may bring. These possible walkway liabilities as well as others are extensively covered in ASTM F1637-21.

Orange traffic cones supporting ASTM F1637-21 by blocking an unsafe sidewalk.

Protrusions and edges were added to the previous edition of ASTM F1637-21, which is important since these are common hazards when walking. Now, in accordance with Section 5.6, “Conditions Above and Alongside Walkways,” objects obstructing walkways that are smaller than 3 feet high are to be marked to be visually prominent in walkways, and the standard calls for edges to be made noticeable or guarded to prevent pedestrians from accidentally falling off a walkway edge.

It is important to note that this standard was made with the consideration that pedestrians are wearing normal footwear on walkways. Also note that this standard may not be adequate for walkway safety for people with certain mobility impairments.

ASTM F1637-21: Standard Practice For Safe Walking Surfaces is available on the ANSI Webstore.

2 thoughts on “ASTM F1637-21: Standard Practice For Safe Walking Surfaces
  1. Does “ASTM F1637-19: Standard Practice For Safe Walking Surfaces” include standards that apply to sidewalks along city streets and in parks?

    1. In general “Yes” because it is a national standard of care. If sidewalk is private property then the Uniform Bldg. Code and the NFPA Life Safety Code apply because it would be located within the Meand of Egress per se and specifically the “Exit Discharge” leading to the Public Way. If owned by a government group, aka, city, county, state, or federal then the issue becomes more legally technical but regardless ASTM F 1637 still represent a stand of care on a national basis and the Common Law theme would dictate that no one is allowed to build unsafe sidewalks regardless of location. Also, I always include standard civil drawings that county, city, and states use for contractors and therein is yet another standard of care to refer to or to serve as a professional opinion held WITHING A reasonable degree of certainty or probability.

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