For job-related in structures under construction and also remodeling in the united States, the job-related Safety and Health administration (OSHA) in 29 CFR 1926.500 states “Hole means a gap or void 2 inch (5.1 cm) or an ext in its the very least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.” This meaning suggests that the standards are came to not only with holes big enough because that a worker to fall through, but likewise with those holes the could record a hoe or toe and also trip a worker.

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OSHA’s 29 CFR 1926.501 (b)(4) “Holes” states:

(i) each employee on walking/working surface shall be protected from falling v holes (including skylights) an ext than 6 feet (1.8 m) above lower levels, by an individual fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail solution erected about such holes.

(ii) every employee on a walking/working surface shall be defended from tripping in or stepping into or v holes (including skylights) by covers.

(iii) every employee top top a walking/working surface shall be defended from objects falling through holes (including skylights) by covers.

Holes that call for covers carry out not have to be large enough because that a worker to loss through.



Photo 1 reflects an opened in a precast concrete plank subfloor, i beg your pardon measures around six inches large by 30 inches long (15.2 cm by 76.2 cm). Due to the fact that the smaller dimension of this hole is higher than two inches (5.1 cm), it need to be covered.



Photo 2 reflects concrete floors that have actually been poured flush v the top of one eight-inch (20.3 cm) wall surface of concrete stonework units (CMU). Because the open cores in the CMU measure about four inches (10.1 cm) square, these openings have to be fill or covered.



Photo 3 mirrors the opened that has been provided around a floor drain in a concrete floor, so the the key of the drain’s grating might be precisely adjusted to the elevation of the perfect floor. Because this opened is better than 2 inches on any kind of side that the drain, it need to be extended until the last adjustment the the drain’s elevation has actually been made, and until the open room has been filled with concrete or grout.

OSHA’s 29 CFR 1926.502 (i) states: “Covers for holes in floors, roofs, and also other walking/working surface shall accomplish the following requirements:

(1) Covers located in roadways and vehicular aisles candlestick be capable of supporting, without failure, at the very least twice the best axle pack of the largest auto expected to cross over the cover.

(2) All other covers shall be qualified of supporting, there is no failure, at the very least twice the load of employees, equipment, and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.

(3) every covers shall it is in secured when mounted so as to prevent inadvertently displacement by the wind, equipment, or employees.

(4) all covers chandelier be shade coded or castle shall be significant with the word “HOLE” or “COVER” to provide marking that the hazard.



Photo 4 reflects a cover over a hole the is approximately 42 customs (106.7 cm) square. It has been screwed come the concrete subfloor to avoid its accidental displacement or removal; and has been significant with fluorescent orange repaint “HOLE”, as compelled by the OSHA standards. Because this cover is intended come support just foot traffic, the ¾-inch (two cm) plywood covering is adequate.



Photo 5 shows a plywood cover end a hole the was intended come support just foot web traffic (about 250 pounds or 113 kg), and also which failed once one wheel that a 3,500-pound (1,590 kg) scissors lift was pushed onto it. The load imposed on this cover by the one wheel was 875 pounds (398 kg), around three times more weight than the cover to be designed to carry with the required safety factor. Fortunately, the scissors lift was not completely loaded; was not elevated; and did not reminder over in this incident.

Please keep in mind that almost any momentary hole covering will remainder upon the surface ar of the floor or roof and also will existing a trip peril to the unwary. The heavier the load the cover is designed come carry, the thicker the is likely to be. The hazard of an injury indigenous a pilgrimage is thought about acceptable in this instance, when contrasted to the injuries (sprains and also fractures) most likely to be incurred from capturing a toe or heel in a tiny hole; or when contrasted to the injuries (fractures and also internal injuries) and also fatalities that are likely if a worker drops through a bigger hole to a lower level.

During inspections and also tours of building job sites, we have to be wary of hole covers. Also these simple solutions to larger problems can trip and also injure us. These space the times to comment on with the contractor’s superintendent or foreman the tons these covers are designed to carry. We can preplan our emergency response so the we will certainly not exceed the safe architecture of this covers. In enhancement to the compelled “HOLE” painted on the cover, some building contractors will include the calculation safe load on the cover through the compelled safety factor, together “MAX. Fill 250 POUNDS.” Some contractors will also spray the edges of feet covers through fluorescent orange paint, to attract attention to the potential pilgrimage hazard.

Some straightforward precautions during emergency work in structures where feet covers room present:

Do not walk top top or occupational from hole covers uneven there is no alternativeA feet cover design to assistance 250-pound separation, personal, instance foot traffic must support a solitary firefighter put on full an individual protective equipment; but may not support the firefighter to add the ladder, tools, or rolled hose that is gift carried.A hole cover draft to assistance 250-pound foot traffic might not assistance an ambulance cot, patient, and also the attending EMTs/paramedics without failure. Amongst the determinants that deserve to lead to fail of the cover are the load of the cot; weight of the patient; weight of the attendants; the size of the hole; and the diameter and also width that the cot’s wheels.Never set a ladder on a hole cover. Although the cover may not fail indigenous the allude loading of the ladder’s spurs, that will virtually certainly fail when firefighters room on the ladder. Find an additional ladder access point to the upper level, or use a stairway.

Occupational Safety and also Health management standards and regulations for the United says are totally free downloads indigenous Click “Regulations,” then on “Laws and Regulations,” climate on “Construction.” Scroll under to uncover the topic you need and click top top it. Note that many of the OSHA security standards space not had in one of two people fire or building codes.

Canada and also other countries have comparable safety standards and regulations, which room the authority in ~ the boundaries of those nations and also their territories. An net search because that “construction security ”, or a similar search, should include a connect to that country’s identical of us OSHA and its standards or regulations; uneven those documents are easily accessible only in print.

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Gregory Havel is a member the the town of Burlington (WI) Fire Department; retirement deputy chief and training officer; and also a 35-year veteran that the fire service. The is a Wisconsin-certified fire instructor II, fire officer II, and also fire inspector; an adjunct instructor in fire business programs at Gateway technological College; and safety director because that Scherrer building Co., Inc. Havel has a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College; has an ext than 35 years of experience in framework management and building construction; and also has gift classes in ~ FDIC International and other venues.



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