Toolbox Talk: Preventing Falls through Holes

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CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training

Summary Statement

The CPWR Toolbox Talk on Preventing Falls through Holes addresses the risks associated with falling from roofs or through floors. The resource includes a ‘real-life’ case example, steps to prevent a related injury or illness, and questions for discussion. It includes an image (page 2) that illustrates the hazard, which can be posted in a central location as a reminder of steps to work safely.   Click on the following links to access the English version and the Spanish version. (English) (Español)

https://www.cpwr.com/publications/toolbox-talks

CPWR Toolbox Talk logoHoles and openings are made in roofs and floors of buildings, both when they are built and when they are torn down. Workers can be injured or killed if they fall through the holes.

 

Here is an Example

John was in the process of removing a damaged plywood sheet when Phillip, another worker, requested some supplies. Before John left to get them, he set down the damaged plywood, and it happened to cover a hole. Later, Phillip came along and picked up the plywood sheet to take it to a disposal chute and he stepped into the uncovered hole. He fell to the concrete floor, about 25 feet below, and suffered severe injuries to his legs and back.

  1. Have you recently worked around a hole in a roof or floor?
  2. Was the opening covered or protected with guardrails?
  3. Have you known anyone who was injured falling through a hole or opening? If so, what happened?

Preventing Falls Through Holes and Openings

  • Guard or cover all holes you have created or uncovered before you leave the work area. Other workers might not notice an uncovered hole and could fall through.
  • Label all covers with the word “HOLE” or “COVER” to provide warning of the hazard
  • Keep an eye out for your co-workers and if a hole is uncovered take action to cover it, EVEN IF YOU DID NOT UNCOVER IT!
  • Make sure covers can support at least two times the weight of workers, equipment and materials that may cross over them. (OSHA regulations require that covers be of standard strength and construction).
  • Secure all covers so they do not move.

What Are We Going to Do Today?

What will we do here at the worksite today to prevent falls through holes or openings?

1.____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

2.____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

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OSHA REGULATION: 1926.501 and 502

Graphic of a worker covering and labeling a hole on the roof.

  • Guard or cover all holes you have created or uncovered before you leave the work area.
  • Label all covers with the word "HOLE" or "COVER" to provide warning of the hazard
  • Keep an eye out for your co-workers and if a hole is uncovered take action to cover it, EVEN IF YOU DID NOT UNCOVER IT!