Oregon OSHA Construction Depot Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

March 20, 2017

What you might not know about floors

Most people know what a floor is. However, just to put everyone on the same level, we offer this dictionary definition: A floor is "that part of a room which forms its lower enclosing surface and upon which one may walk." Most people also know that the most common hazards associated with floors are slips, trips, and falls, but that knowledge does not keep them from slipping, tripping, or falling. Remember Ben Franklin's advice: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Keep your floors clean, dry (if possible), and free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards.

Also, be sure to follow Oregon OSHA's other requirements for floors. Here is a comprehensive list:

Subdivision C: General safety and health provisions

437-003-0905 – Flooring

In buildings or other structures of wood floor construction, the underflooring shall be laid on each tier of joists as the structure progresses, or if double floors are not to be used, the tier of joists next below where work is being performed shall be entirely floored over except for such spaces as are required for ladders and shaftways.

437-003-0910 – Temporary Floors

Temporary floors shall be of sufficient strength to support expected loading.

Subdivision D: Occupational health and environmental controls

1926.57 – Ventilation

  • Dust shall not be permitted to accumulate on the floor or on ledges outside of an abrasive-blasting enclosure, and dust spills shall be cleaned up promptly.
  • Spray rooms, including floors, shall be constructed of masonry, concrete, or other noncombustible material.
  • Floors and platforms around tanks shall be prevented from becoming slippery both by original type of construction and by frequent flushing. They shall be firm, sound, and of the design and construction to minimize the possibility of tripping.

1926.62 – Lead

Clean-up of floors and other surfaces where lead accumulates shall wherever possible, be cleaned by vacuuming or other methods that minimize the likelihood of lead becoming airborne.

Subdivision F: Fire protection and prevention

1926.154 – Temporary heating devices

Heaters not suitable for use on wood floors shall not be set directly upon them or other combustible materials. When such heaters are used, they shall rest on suitable heat insulating material or at least 1-inch concrete, or equivalent. The insulating material shall extend beyond the heater 2 feet or more in all directions.

Subdivision H: Materials handling, storage, use, and disposal

1926.250 – General requirements for storage

Maximum safe load limits of floors within buildings and structures, in pounds per square foot, shall be conspicuously posted in all storage areas, except for floor or slab on grade. Maximum safe loads shall not be exceeded.

1926.252 – Disposal of waste materials

When debris is dropped through holes in the floor without the use of chutes, the area onto which the material is dropped shall be completely enclosed with barricades not less than 42 inches high and not less than 6 feet back from the projected edge of the opening above.

Subdivision K: Electrical

1926.441 – Batteries and battery charging

Floors shall be of acid resistant construction unless protected from acid accumulations.

Subdivision M: Fall protection

1926.500 – Scope, application, and definitions

  • Hole means a gap or void 2 inches (5.1 cm) or more in its least dimension, in a floor, roof, or other walking/working surface.
  • Leading edge means the edge of a floor, roof, or formwork for a floor or other walking/ working surface (such as the deck) which changes location as additional floor, roof, decking, or formwork sections are placed, formed, or constructed. A leading edge is considered to be an "unprotected side and edge" during periods when it is not actively and continuously under construction.
  • Lower levels means those areas or surfaces to which an employee can fall. Such areas or surfaces include, but are not limited to, ground levels, floors, platforms, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, material, water, equipment, structures, or portions thereof.

437-003-1500 – Additional definitions

Walking/working surface means any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, run- ways, formwork, beams, columns, trusses and concrete reinforcing steel but not ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties.

Subdivision R: Steel erection

1926.751 – Definitions

  • Decking hole means a gap or void more than 2 inches (5.1 cm) in its least dimension and less than 12 inches (30.5 cm) in its greatest dimension in a floor, roof or other walking/ working surface. Pre-engineered holes in cellular decking (for wires, cables, etc.) are not included in this definition.
  • Leading edge means the unprotected side and edge of a floor, roof, or formwork for a floor or other walking/working surface (such as deck) which changes location as additional floor, roof, decking or formwork sections are placed, formed or constructed.
  • Permanent floor means a structurally completed floor at any level or elevation (including slab on grade).

437-003-0045 – Additional definitions

  • Lower levels – Those areas or surfaces to which an employee can fall. Such areas or surfaces include, but are not limited to, ground levels, floors, platforms, ramps, runways, excavations, pits, tanks, material, water, equipment, structures.
  • Opening – A gap or void 12 inches (30.5 cm) or more in any dimension in a floor, roof or other walking/working surface.

1926.754 – Structural steel assembly

  • Additional requirements for multi-story structures: The permanent floors shall be installed as the erection of structural members progresses, and there shall be not more than eight stories between the erection floor and the upper-most permanent floor, except where the structural integrity is maintained as a result of the design.
  • A fully planked or decked floor or nets shall be maintained within two stories or 30 feet (9.1 m), whichever is less, directly under any erection work being performed.
  • Covers for roof and floor openings shall be capable of supporting, without failure, twice the weight of the employees, equipment and materials that may be imposed on the cover at any one time.
  • A derrick floor shall be fully decked and/or planked and the steel member connections completed to support the intended floor loading.
  • Temporary loads placed on a derrick floor shall be distributed over the underlying support members so as to prevent local overloading of the deck material.

437-003-1754 – Roof and floor holes and openings

Roof and floor holes and openings shall be decked over. Where large size configuration or other structural design does not allow openings to be decked over (such as elevator shafts, and stairwells) employees shall be protected by covers or guardrail systems erected around such openings as soon as the openings are created.

Subdivision T: Demolition

1926.850 – Preparatory operations

  • Prior to permitting employees to start demolition operations, an engineering survey shall be made, by a competent person, of the structure to determine the condition of the framing, floors, and walls, and possibility of unplanned collapse of any portion of the structure.
  • When employees are required to work within a structure to be demolished which has been damaged by fire, flood, explosion, or other cause, the walls or floor shall be shored or braced.
  • When debris is dropped through holes in the floor without the use of chutes, the area onto which the material is dropped shall be completely enclosed with barricades not less than 42 inches high and not less than 6 feet back from the projected edge of the opening above.
  • All floor openings, not used as material drops, shall be covered over with material substantial enough to support the weight of any load which may be imposed. Such material shall be properly secured to prevent its accidental movement.
  • The demolition of exterior walls and floor construction shall begin at the top of the structure and proceed downward. Each story of exterior wall and floor construction shall be removed and dropped into the storage space before commencing the removal of exterior walls and floors in the story next below.

1926.852 – Chutes

Any space between the chute and the edge of openings in the floors through which it passes shall be solidly covered over.

1926.853 – Removal of materials through floor openings

  • Any openings cut in a floor for the disposal of materials shall be no larger in size than 25 percent of the aggregate of the total floor area, unless the lateral supports of the removed flooring remain in place.
  • Floors weakened or otherwise made unsafe by demolition operations shall be shored to carry safely the intended imposed load from demolition operations.

1926.854 – Removal of walls, masonry sections, and chimneys

  • Structural or load-supporting members on any floor shall not be cut or removed until all stories above such a floor have been demolished and removed.
  • Floor openings within 10 feet of any wall being demolished shall be planked solid, except when employees are kept out of the area below.

1926.855 – Manual removal of floors

  • Openings cut in a floor shall extend the full span of the arch between supports.
  • Stringers of ample strength shall be installed to support the flooring planks, and the ends of such stringers shall be supported by floor beams or girders, and not by floor arches alone.

1926.856 – Removal of walls, floors, and material with equipment

Floor openings shall have curbs or stop-logs to prevent equipment from running over the edge.

1926.857 – Storage

  • The storage of waste material and debris on any floor shall not exceed the allowable floor loads.
  • In buildings having wooden floor construction, the flooring boards may be removed from not more than one floor above grade to provide storage space for debris, provided falling material is not permitted to endanger the stability of the structure.

1926.859 – Mechanical demolition

During demolition, continuing inspections by a competent person shall be made as the work progresses to detect hazards resulting from weakened or deteriorated floors, or walls, or loosened material.