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Section C.19
University of South Carolina Safety Program Guide


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) CFR 1910 Subpart D Walking and Working Surfaces apply to all permanent places of employment, except where only domestic, mining, or agricultural work is performed.

Program Description

1. General Requirements:

  • Workplaces must be kept clean, orderly, and sanitary.
  • Workroom floors must be maintained as clean and dry as possible.

2. Aisles and Passageways:

  • 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.

3. Covers and Guardrails:

  • Provide covers and/or guardrails to protect workers from the hazards of open pits, tanks, vats, ditches, and the like.

4. Floor Loading Protection:

  • Load ratings must be marked on plates and be conspicuously posted.
  • Do not exceed the load rating limit.

5. 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.

6. Guarding Floor Openings:

  • Standard railing consists of top rail, mid rail, and posts.
  • Height from the upper surface of top rail to floor level is 42 inches which must support a (minimum) 200 lbs of force from all directions.
  • Mid rail height is 21 inches.
  • Standard toeboard. 4 inches high, with not more than ¼-inch clearance above the floor.

7. Stairway Floor Openings:

  • Must be guarded by a standard railing on all exposed sides (except at entrance).

8. Ladder-way Floor Openings:

  • 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.

9. Floor Hole:

  • 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 a standard railing with toeboard cover.

10. 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.

11. 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 toe-board 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

12. Open-Sided Floors, Walkways, Platforms, and Runways:

  • Regardless of height, a standard railing and toeboard must be used to guard:
    • open-sided floors
    • walkways
    • platforms
    • runways
    • above or adjacent to dangerous equipment, pickling or galvanizing tanks, degreasing units, and similar hazards.

13. Stairways:

  • Flights of stairs with four or more risers must have standard stair railings or handrails.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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).

17. 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

18. 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.

19. Exit Routes Basic Requirements:

  • Exit routes must be permanent and there must be enough exits in the proper arrangement for quick escape.
  • An opening into an exit must be protected by an approved self-closing fire door that remains closed or automatically closes in an emergency.
  • Each exit discharge must lead directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside that is large enough to accommodate all building occupants likely to use the exit route.
  • Exit routes must be free and unobstructed.
  • Keep exit routes free of explosive or highly flammable materials.



  • 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.


  • Train employees who may be exposed to the specific hazards related to walking and working surfaces, scaffolding, mobile elevated work platforms, and portable and fixed ladders, and the precautions and safeguards required to prevent injuries.
  • Ensure competent or qualified persons are qualified by training and experience to perform their designed roles in each of the above areas.
  • Ensure retraining is accomplished for all affected employees whenever there is a change in the appropriate area noted above, or when an employee is noted deviating from the prescribed safe work practices.
  • Certify training with written training records.
  • Verify training effectiveness through actual work observations.

Use of Equipment:

  • The Competent Person will determine requirements for safe walking and working surfaces.


Roles and Responsibilities


  •  Provide specific training for qualified and compete workers.
  • Provide and maintain necessary protective equipment and materials.


  • Ensure workers receive training appropriate to their assigned tasks.
  • Ensure workers are provided with and use protective equipment and materials.


  •  Provide general training.
  • Provide assistance with evaluation to determine regulatory requirements and / or best work practices.
  • Provide a periodic auditing of work site.


  • Attend training.
  • Use appropriate safety-related work practices, including all necessary protective equipment and materials.

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