Dangerous Openings in the Floor Put Construction Workers at Risk

Every day construction workers face on the job safety issues that could result in serious injuries or even death. One of the risks construction workers face is working on a job site where dangerous holes and openings exist.

Falls are the greatest cause of fatal construction injuries, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. Many of these falls—including those from holes or openings in a floor—could be prevented with the proper safety training and safety precautions.

It is important for construction workers to know where holes are located and that they do not become too familiar with dangerous surroundings. Familiarity can lead to accidents when workers let down their guard.

Safety precautions begin with proper signage. Warning signs should use bright, bold colors and standard warning symbols. Proper railings and toe boards on all exposed parts of a floor or opening are also important. A guard rail should also be used as a protective barrier around any openings in the floor. Rail barriers should stand about 42 inches tall and be able to handle the force of someone or something walking or falling against it.

Covers are easy and effective safeguards that help prevent workers from falling through holes in the floor. These covers must be sturdy enough to withstand a great deal of weight. They also should be well marked.

Structure safety nets are also used to catch a worker in case of a fall. These nets can be installed 30 feet below an opening in a floor. Some work sites use them instead of—or with—guard rails, especially when drops are greater than six feet. These nets are especially important when a hole or opening leads to multiple levels or floors.

When a hole or opening in the floor must be uncovered while work is being performed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls for temporary guard to be in place or a person be stationed at the site to warn others of the danger. And just because you are aware of an opening or hole doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Leaning over a hole, for any reason, can be dangerous. A worker pulling on a rope with their back to a floor opening also puts them at risk for falling through that hole.

Construction workers face significant dangers from floor openings and holes on job sites. With the installation of sturdy covers, guard rails, nets and signage, the danger from falls is dramatically decreased.