Access and egress refer to the means of entry and exit to a workplace. A safe means of access and egress shall be provided when the landing point elevation is more than 19 inches (48 cm), no matter above or below. The Law on Health and Safety at work act of 1974 requires safe access and egress in all workplaces. Access and egress to construction sites are particularly dangerous due to the concentration of movement there: people, vehicles, and facilities.
By the Law on Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, employers must ensure that the general public is not exposed to health or safety risks, including at points of entry and exit from the workplace. Each construction site must be organized so pedestrians and vehicles “can circulate safely and without health risks”. Adequate signage to be placed at access points when necessary for health and safety reasons.
Employees must fully comply with all workplace health and safety policies, procedures and regulations. Report any potential health and safety hazards, failures, and problems related to access and egress. Safe site access and egress to all site activities and locations should be planned at the design stage.
A risk assessment of each access and exit point must be completed. The risk assessment should identify any hazards and minimize risks to all users entering and leaving a site and to passers-by. As a key output, it should inform the development of a traffic management plan that recognizes the hazards created by physical and behavioural characteristics.
Speed limits and parking arrangements should be included in the site rules. Vehicles should not be allowed to park near the entrance gates to the site. Adequate signage was provided to assist delivery vehicles unfamiliar with the site’s layout and safe access signage for personnel.
In this blog, we will cover the importance of maintaining safe access and egress arrangements and also talk about the importance of emergency exits. The provision of an emergency exit can help guarantee the safety of everyone in case of an emergency.
Access and egress meaning
Means of access and egress means a continuous and unobstructed path of travel provided by a hallway, corridor, stairway, ramp, ladder or other access egress facility used for the escape of persons from the site in case of emergency.
Routes providing access and egress must be controlled, secure, properly constructed, kept free of obstructions, and well maintained. Serious injury from hazards such as slipping and tripping, striking moving vehicles, and falling into floor openings can result when access and egress arrangements are not properly maintained.
Describe the restrictions and precautions that must be taken regarding the method of pedestrian and/or vehicle access to the site and any confined space. Please note that a means of safe access to work sites must be provided and this includes access for construction workers to perform work in what may have been identified as hazardous areas of existing structures.
Consider access for site traffic through or around existing roads, structures, or pavements. Will access routes change as construction progresses? Try to separate vehicles, plants and operators. Specify the lifting zones and the location of the crane, surveillance, etc. Identify delivery, placement, and storage areas to reduce manual handling and allow access to mechanical lifting devices.
Hazards and risks
Safe site access and egress should be planned at the design stage. The designer must be aware of and assess the risks of the following main hazards.
- Falls from height are caused by inadequate or unsafe access and egress to workplaces.
- Contact with moving vehicles caused by the non-separation of people and vehicles route.
- Inadequate height and clearance access and egress can cause bumps.
- Slips and trips due to obstructed access and egress.
- Trapped in an emergency.
Slips, Trips and fall
Access and egress routes are part of your work area. Access and egress routes and work areas should be kept in a safe, unobstructed, and well-maintained condition, as this can help reduce the risk of dangerous slip, trip and fall accidents.
To guarantee the sustainability of any company, it is very important to establish safe working conditions, both for the personnel that work in it, as well as for the equipment and infrastructure it uses.
Every year, several people die as a result of being struck by a moving object. In most cases, these deaths occurred in vehicle-related accidents in the workplace. It is important to separate vehicles and pedestrians in your work area. You should always be aware of vehicle movements within your work site, and stick to pedestrian routes when going to or leaving your work area.
The transit of forklifts and people through the same areas represents one of the main accident risks in all industrial activity, especially in warehouses and production areas, if the necessary elements are not available to guarantee the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians.
Nearly 110,000 forklift accidents are reported worldwide each year. In countries like the United States, for example, one in every 6 deaths in the workplace involves a forklift.
Your work area should be organized to ensure you have enough height and space for access and egress, as well as movement and machining operations. All chords, leads, hose etc. (if possible) be supported at least 2.4m (8 feet) above the walkway. The electrical cable must be supported with non-conductive materials to avoid trip hazards.
What to do to mitigate the risk?
There are protection elements that make it possible to segregate the transit areas of vehicles and people and also contribute to the protection of machinery and physical infrastructure. These elements are known as protection or security barriers, which are installed inside warehouses and production areas, to divert the impacts of vehicles and stop them before they can affect people. , machinery and/or buildings
When it comes to safety in plants, one of the most crucial features is having adequate and functional emergency exits. Emergency exits allowed people to evacuate buildings quickly and safely, so all buildings must have them to guarantee the physical integrity of their users.
The emergency exits must be marked correctly and in a visible way, even in conditions of absence of lighting, placing an emergency light indicating the exit from the work with sufficient intensity to be visible in the dark. The emergency exits must be available at all times and cannot be blocked or obstructed by any element that prevents the passage of workers in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Emergency doors should always open outwards and should never be sliding doors or revolving doors. For these reasons, you should never place or store tools, equipment, or other items in the exit routes. Operations must be planned so that exit routes are not damaged, and any accidental damage must be corrected immediately.
Report any spills that may affect exit routes. Holes must be repaired, covered or shielded. Most importantly, make sure you are familiar with the exit route from your work area and the site, so you can get off the job site quickly and safely in the event of an emergency.
Confined space access and egress
Whenever a confined space is entered, the access/egress route must be maintained to ensure that all personnel working in the space can leave as quickly as possible if the need arises. When the size of the openings to or in the confined spaces is not sufficient, the possibility of increasing them should be considered.
Confined space supervisors can brief on the hazards associated with restricted access/egress and the operational requirements in incidents involving confined spaces.
Scaffolding platform access and egress
In some situations, additional stairs will be required, either alone or as part of the scaffolding system, to provide sufficient means of escape for site personnel. These may provide an option to gain access and egress. All-access routes, including ramps and stairs, must be able to be used easily and safely, taking into account their intended use.
If the horizontal travel distance of the scaffolding platform exceeds 15m (50 feet), needs two access. If the horizontal travel distance of the scaffold is more than 15m, access must be placed no more than 30m of distances.
Excavation access and egress
OHSA Definition “An excavation is any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the Earth’s surface formed by removal of earth.” A trench is considered an excavation. An excavation is considered a confined space when the excavation is 4 feet or deeper.
From 1.2m deep, stairs must be placed no more than 7.5m of distances between them that rest on the bottom and protrude 1m of the excavation. If the excavation depth is less than 1.2m then stairs must be placed no more than 30m of distance.
Ladder the safe means of access and egress
Ladders should be placed in safe places, away from gaps and openings and where people do not regularly pass, nor in the vicinity of electrical surfaces. They must be placed on flat and solid surfaces that prevent slipping. If the surface is not suitable, levelling systems should always be sought.
It must be considered:
- The angle it forms with the floor, which is, the inclination concerning the wall, must be 75º.
- One person holds the ladder while the other climbs, which is not very practical and equally not entirely safe, ladders must be properly secured to prevent falls.
- The ladder should never be supported on unstable objects to gain height.
- The bottom rung of the ladder shall not be more than 600 mm (2 feet) above the lower level used to mount the ladder.
- The area at the base of a ladder shall be kept clear. The ladder shall not be used in a horizontal position as a walkway.
- Safe clearance shall be maintained to prevent bump hazards while ascending and descending the ladder.
SAFE USE OF THE LADDER
- In addition to being correctly built, placed in the right place and in the right way, the ladder must be used correctly to avoid accidents.
- You always have to go down and go up facing the ladder and try to do it with your hands-free, to be able to hold on to the steps.
- When it is necessary to transport tools or materials, they should be placed in bags with straps, to keep your hands free.
- You have to go up and down one by one.
- It is very risky to climb a ladder to reach things far away, which makes you lose your balance. In these cases, it will be replaced with another work platform.
Ramps are also temporary accesses to cross uneven spaces and are often used for the passage of people and also to transport materials, for example with wheelbarrows. Unlike the stairs, the ramps have a lower inclination because otherwise, they would mean a great physical effort for the workers. They must have railings and toe boards to prevent people or objects from falling.
Look around you and answer these questions.
Are walkways and driveways well-lit?
If the answer is no: Increase lighting on walkways and driveways.
Is there broken or uneven pavement on the roads or paths, or the driveway?
If yes: Repair broken or uneven paving on all roads and paths, and driveway.
Are tools, garbage bags and equipment kept in access?
If yes: clear the access
Are access is without signage:
If yes: provide “safe access” signage.
Are scaffolding ladders holding a red tag?
If yes: Dismantle as soon as possible.
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