OSHA - Walking Working Surfaces

OSHA - Walking Working Surfaces

Course Description

The focus of this course is on OSHA standards for walking and working surfaces.

Accreditation Information: KLA Education Services LLC is accredited by the State of California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider # CEP16145.

Course Certification: Once you have completed this course, click on the “Print Certificate” option below to save or print your CE course certification. If you are not yet registered in a course plan with IvyLeagueNurse, please complete the registration and payment process so that you are able to log into your account and fully obtain your course certificate. Our affordable and unlimited one-year CEU plan starts at just $19.99.

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Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the course participant will be able to:

  • Define the terms: floor hole, floor opening, wall opening, standard railing and standard toe board. Insert course objectives here.
  • Discuss at least 5 requirements to consider in order to avoid walking/working surface hazards related to floors, walls, holes, stairways, platforms and ladders or scaffolding.

Course Content


  • Slips, trips and falls cause:

    • the majority of general industry accidents

    • 15 percent of all accidental deaths

    • more fatalities than all other causes but motor vehicles

  • OSHA’s standards for walking and working surfaces apply to all permanent places of employment, except where only domestic, mining, or agricultural work is performed.

  • Regulatory Reference: 29 CFR Part 1910 Subpart D ; Walking-Working Surfaces (§1910.21 to 1910.30)

General Requirements


  • Workplaces must be kept clean, orderly, and sanitary

  • Workroom floors must be maintained as clean and dry as possible

  • Some of the most frequently cited violations in Subpart D involve housekeeping [1910.22(a)].

  • Drainage must be maintained and gratings, mats or raised platforms must be provided where wet processes are used.

  • Every floor, working place and passageway must be kept free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards to facilitate cleaning.


  • Keep clear and move obstructions that could create a hazard

  • Mark permanent aisles and passageways

  • Aisles must be sufficiently wide where mechanical handling equipment is used

  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.22(b)


  • Provide covers and/or guardrails to protect workers from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats, ditches, and the like.
  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.22(c)


  • Load ratings must be marked on plates and be conspicuously posted

  • Do not exceed the load rating limit

  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.22(d)

Floor Openings


  • Floor Opening: An opening measuring 12 inches or more in its least dimension in a floor, platform, pavement, or yard, through which persons may fall. (OSHA 1910.21(a)(2))
  • Standard Railing: Consists of top rail, mid rail, and posts. Height from the upper surface of top rail to floor level is 42 inches. Mid rail height is 21 inches.
  • Standard Toeboard: 4 inches high, with not more than ¼-inch clearance above the floor.
    • Reference for Railings & Toeboards: OSHA 1910.23(e)(1) and (4)


  • Must be guarded by a standard railing on all exposed sides (except at entrance).
  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.23(a)(1)


  • Guard with a standard railing with toeboard on all exposed sides (except entrance)

  • Guard the passage through the railing with a swinging gate or offset it to prevent someone from walking into the opening

  • Regulatory Referene: OSHA 1910.23(a)(2)


  • An opening measuring less than 12 in. but more than 1 in. in its least dimension, in a floor, platform, pavement or yard, through which materials but not persons may fall

  • Every floor hole into which persons can accidentally walk must be guarded by either:

    • standard railing with toe board

    • cover

  • Every floor hole into which persons cannot accidentally walk (because of fixed machinery, equipment, or walls) shall be protected by a cover that leaves no openings more than 1 inch wide. The cover shall be securely held in place to prevent tools or materials from falling through.

  • Regulatory References: OSHA 1910.21(a)(1) and 1910.23(a)(8)

Wall Openings

  • Opening at least 30 in. high and 18 in. wide, in a wall or partition, through which persons may fall

  • Wall openings from which there is a drop of more than 4 feet must be guarded.

  • Guard using one of the following: rail, roller, picket fence, half door, or equivalent barrier.

  • Where there is exposure below to falling materials, a removable toe board or the equivalent must also be provided.

  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.23(b)(1)

Open-Sided Floors and Platforms

  • Open-sided floors or platforms 4 feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level must be guarded by a standard railing (or equivalent) on all open sides, except where there is an entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder

  • A toeboard is required when, beneath the open sides:

    • persons can pass,

    • there is moving machinery, or

    • there is equipment with which falling materials could create a hazard

  • Regulatory Reference: 1910.23(c)(1)

Open-Sided Floors, Walkways, Platforms, and Runways

  • Regardless of height, a standard railing and toeboard must be used to guard the following above or adjacent to dangerous equipment, pickling or galvanizing tanks, degreasing units, and similar hazards:
    • open-sided floors
    • walkways
    • platforms, or
    • runways
  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.23(c)(3)


  • Flights of stairs with four or more risers must have standard stair railings or handrails.
  • Regulatory References: OSHA 1910.23(d)(1) ; 1910.23(e)(2)

Fixed Industrial Stairs

  • Treads must be slip resistant with uniform rise height and tread width

  • Must be able to carry 5 times expected load; minimum of 1000 pounds

  • Minimum width of 22 inches

  • Applies to interior and exterior stairs around machinery, tanks and other equipment, and stairs leading to or from floors, platforms or pits.

  • Does not apply to stairs used for fire exit purposes, to construction operations, to private residences, or to articulated stairs, such as those on floating roof tanks.

  • Fixed industrial stairs are required for access to and from places of work where operations necessitate regular travel between levels.

  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.24

Portable Ladders

  • Ladders used to gain access to a roof or other area must extend at least 3 feet above the point of support

  • Withdraw defective ladders from service and tag or mark "Dangerous, Do Not Use“

  • Never use ladders in a horizontal position as scaffolds or work platforms

  • Never use metal ladders near electrical equipment

  • Maximum length: Stepladders – 20 ft, single-rung ladders – 30 ft., two-section rung ladders – 60 ft.

  • Stepladders must be equipped with a metal spreader or locking device to securely hold the front and back sections in an open position.

  • All ladders must be inspected periodically, kept in good condition at all times, and must be free from sharp edges, splinters, oil grease, or other defects which would affect their use.

  • Always place the ladder on secure footing and lock in place.

  • Short ladders shall not be spliced together to make long ladders.

  • The top of a regular stepladder shall not be used as a step.

  • Always face the ladder when climbing or descending.

  • Regulatory References: OSHA 1910.25 and 1910.26

Ladder Angle

  • Portable Rung and Cleat Ladders
    • Use at angle where the horizontal distance from the top support to the foot of the ladder is ¼ the working length of the ladder (length along ladder between the foot and top support).

    • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.25

Fixed Ladders

  • Permanently attached to a structure, building or equipment

  • Cages or wells required if longer than 20 ft. to a maximum unbroken length of 30 ft.

  • Ladder safety devices may be used on tower, water tank and chimney ladders over 20 ft. in unbroken length instead of cage protection.

  • All fixed ladders must be inspected regularly and be maintained in a safe condition.

  • Preferred pitch in range of 75 to 90 degrees with horizontal.

  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.27

Scaffolding - General Requirements

  • Must be capable of supporting four times the maximum intended load

  • Do not alter or move while in use

  • Protect workers on scaffolds from overhead hazards

  • If higher than 10 ft., use guardrails, mid-rails and toe boards

  • Use wire mesh between the toe board and guardrail if people work or pass underneath

  • Must be equipped with access ladder or equivalent

  • Damaged or weakened scaffolds must not be used.

  • A safe means must be provided to gain access to the working platform level through use of a ladder, ramp, etc.

  • Never work on scaffolds during storms, high winds, ice, or snow.

  • Always be aware of the hazards of overhead power lines when working on scaffolds.

  • Regulatory Reference: OSHA 1910.28


  • Slips, trips, and falls constitute the majority of general industry accidents.

  • OSHA’s standards for walking and working surfaces include requirements for housekeeping, guarding floor and wall openings and holes, industrial stairs and ladders.

  • Keeping working surfaces clean, dry, and uncluttered can prevent many workplace accidents.

Course Evaluation

Please select the extent to the following was met. (Disagree..Agree)

1. Course met objectives?

(1) (5)

2. Applicability or usability of new information?

(1) (5)

3. Adequacy of the instructor's mastery of subject?

(1) (5)

4. Efficiency of course mechanics?

(1) (5)

Course Evaluation

Please select the extent to the following was met. (Disagree..Agree)

1. Course met objectives?

(1) (5)

2. Applicability or usability of new information?

(1) (5)

3. Adequacy of the instructor's mastery of subject?

(1) (5)

4. Efficiency of course mechanics?

(1) (5)

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