The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released a new set of floor safety guidelines this month, raising the bar for safety, inspection and general floor care in the commercial cleaning industry.
The new regulations follow careful research and consulting, including input from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The Walking and Working Surfaces (29 CFR Part 1910) document creates industry standards for employers to follow that “protect employees from slips, falls, and trips.” The rules were developed in the 1980s and have served as an authoritative and comprehensive set of guidelines for the cleaning industry, but a steady increase in reported workplace falls and injuries prompted OSHA to generate revised requirements.
At OSHA’s final public hearing, the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) presented recommendations to the Walking and Working Surface requirements.
The current set of revisions highlights some significant new changes:
- Qualified persons are required for floor inspections. The new rules require “qualified persons” to inspect, maintain and repair workplace floors. A qualified person is defined as being “capable of identifying existing or potential hazards in specific surroundings or working conditions which may be hazardous or dangerous to employees; and has been trained for the specific task assigned.” Employers will have to designate a qualified person that can determine compliance with the new ANSI standards.
- An effectively implemented housekeeping program that includes floor care is required. Education, training, and a host of other required housekeeping programs that address floor care and maintenance are required by the new regulations.
Studies referenced by OSHA for new regulations
- ANSI A1264.2-2001 – Standard for Walking/Working Surfaces
- A Bibliography of Coefficient of Friction Literature Relating to Slip Type Accidents; Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Michigan
Training to Become a Qualified Floor Inspector
Looking ahead to the additional training requirements commercial cleaning companies and facilities managers will have to incorporate to their floor care programs, NFSI is increasing access to its Walkway Auditor Certification Training program, which is located in Southlake, Texas. Qualified floor inspectors need this certification to meet the new OSHA regulations.
The training program will be fully opened in the Fall of 2013 after NFSI achieves official ANSI Accredited Training Organization status. The Walkway Safety Management program is specifically based on ANSI and NFSI’s B101.8 “Floor Safety Management Program for Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention” regulation material.
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