Good to Know: Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


OSHA Standard 1910.23 – Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes is part of 1910 Subpart D – Walking-Working Surfaces. There are additional standards within Subpart D that address ladders, scaffolding, mobile stands and other working surfaces. There are also general requirements that address housekeeping matters, aisles and passageways, covers and guardrails and floor loading protection.

The requirements of 1910.23 – Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes address in more detail protection of floor openings, protection of wall openings and holes, protection of open-sided floors, platforms, and runways, stairway railings and guards, and railings, toeboards, and cover specifications.

Of the requirements specified in Standard 1910.23, the LBM sector has been cited in these areas -

  1. Guarding floor and wall openings and holes -
    • Every stairway floor opening shall be guarded by a standard railing constructed in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section. The railing shall be provided on all exposed sides (except at entrance to stairway). For infrequently used stairways where traffic across the opening prevents the use of fixed standard railing (as when located in aisle spaces, etc.), the guard shall consist of a hinged floor opening cover of standard strength and construction and removable standard railings on all exposed sides (except at entrance to stairway). [1910.23(a)(1)]
  2. Protection for wall openings and holes -
    • Every wall opening from which there is a drop of more than 4 feet shall be guarded by one of the following [1910.23(b)(1)]:
      • Rail, roller, picket fence, half door, or equivalent barrier. Where there is exposure below to falling materials, a removable toeboard or the equivalent shall also be provided. When the opening is not in use for handling materials, the guard shall be kept in position regardless of a door on the opening. In addition, a grab handle shall be provided on each side of the opening with its center approximately 4 feet above floor level and of standard strength and mounting. [1910.23(b)(1)(i)]
      • Extension platform onto which materials can be hoisted for handling, and which shall have side rails or equivalent guards of standard specifications. [1910.23(b)(1)(ii)]
  3. Protection of open-sided floors, platforms, and runways -
    • Every open-sided floor or platform 4 feet or more above adjacent floor or ground level shall be guarded by a standard railing (or the equivalent as specified in paragraph (e)(3) of this section) on all open sides except where there is entrance to a ramp, stairway, or fixed ladder. The railing shall be provided with a toeboard wherever, beneath the open sides, [1910.23(c)(1)]
  4. Stairway railings and guards -
    • Every flight of stairs having four or more risers shall be equipped with standard stair railings or standard handrails as specified in paragraphs (d)(1)(i) through (v) of this section, the width of the stair to be measured clear of all obstructions except handrails [1910.23(d)(1)]:
      • On stairways less than 44 inches wide having both sides enclosed, at least one handrail, preferably on the right side descending. [1910.23(d)(1)(i)]
      • On stairways less than 44 inches wide having one side open, at least one stair railing on open side. [1910.23(d)(1)(ii)]
      • On stairways less than 44 inches wide having both sides open, one stair railing on each side. [1910.23(d)(1)(iii)]
      • On stairways more than 44 inches wide but less than 88 inches wide, one handrail on each enclosed side and one stair railing on each open side. [1910.23(d)(1)(iv)
      • On stairways 88 or more inches wide, one handrail on each enclosed side, one stair railing on each open side, and one intermediate stair railing located approximately midway of the width. [1910.23(d)(1)(v)]
  5. Railing, toeboards, and cover specifications -
    • A standard railing shall consist of top rail, intermediate rail, and posts, and shall have a vertical height of 42 inches nominal from upper surface of top rail to floor, platform, runway, or ramp level. The top rail shall be smooth-surfaced throughout the length of the railing. The intermediate rail shall be approximately halfway between the top rail and the floor, platform, runway, or ramp. The ends of the rails shall not overhang the terminal posts except where such overhang does not constitute a projection hazard. [1910.23(e)(1)]
    • A stair railing shall be of construction similar to a standard railing but the vertical height shall be not more than 34 inches nor less than 30 inches from upper surface of top rail to surface of tread in line with face of riser at forward edge of tread. [1910.23(e)(2)]
    • For wood railings, the posts shall be of at least 2-inch by 4-inch stock spaced not to exceed 6 feet; the top and intermediate rails shall be of at least 2-inch by 4-inch stock. If top rail is made of two right-angle pieces of 1-inch by 4-inch stock, posts may be spaced on 8-foot centers, with 2-inch by 4-inch intermediate rail. [1910.23(e)(3)(i)]
NLBMDA 9/6/2016

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