OSHA Field Safety and Health Management System (SHMS) Manual


  1. Purpose

    This program is intended to protect employees from potential health and safety hazards encountered with walking/working surfaces in the office and in the field.

  2. Scope

    All OSHA employees will comply with the requirements of this chapter. Only trained and authorized employees will be allowed to access ladders and scaffolds. Employees will exercise professional judgment and limit their exposures to the absolute minimum.

    However, unless they have specialized training and qualifications, prior to OSHA employees accessing a scaffold system they must contact area office management for concurrence.

  3. Definitions

    See 20 CFR 1910.21.

  4. Responsibilities
    1. Responsible OSHA Manager(s) are responsible for:

      1. Training for all office, administrative, and field employees on the procedures outlined in this chapter.

      2. Providing proper tools and equipment to ensure that the procedures are followed.

      3. Ensuring reported unsafe conditions are corrected.

    2. Employees are responsible for:

      1. Reporting all safety problems immediately to their supervisor.

      2. Maintaining a neat and sanitary office environment.

      3. Following all office safety and health policies.

  5. Procedures
    1. Keep all worker areas, aisles, and passageways, including stairs, doorways, electrical panels and exits, free and clear of obstructions, and maintain them in a clean, orderly, and sanitary fashion.

    2. Maintain floors and stairs in a clean and dry condition (so far as possible). If a spill occurs, clean it up immediately or warn others and report it so that it can be cleaned up.

    3. All trip hazards must be eliminated. Common hazards include damaged carpeting, cords in walking areas, and projecting floor electrical outlet boxes.

    4. Step stools, if equipped with wheels, should have an automatically locking base or wheel locks. Inspect to ensure all parts are secure and safety features, such as wheel locks and anti-slip treads, are intact and properly functioning.

    5. Ladders.

      1. Ladders will be selected for the work intended.

      2. Make sure the ladder is the proper height for the job. Extension ladders will be at least 3 feet taller than the point of support and stepladders will be selected so that the worker is never required to use the top two steps.

      3. Inspect ladders before use. Defective ladders will not be used. Some signs of defects include: broken rungs, split side rails, worn or broken safety feet, broken hinges and spreaders, loose nuts, bolts and/or rivets. If defective, remove ladder from service and place a warning tag reading on it "DO NOT USE."

      4. When using a straight ladder, place feet on a firm and secure it at the top so that it cannot slide sideways.

      5. Always face the ladder when climbing or descending. Use both hands - never carry anything in your hands. You have climbed too high if your knees are above the top of the ladder or if you cannot maintain a handhold on the ladder.

      6. There should only be one person on a ladder at any time unless designed for multiple users.

      7. Do not use metal ladders if there is the possibility of contact with electrical conductors.

      8. Never use a stepladder as a straight ladder.

      9. Do not use stepladders as a brace or a support for a work platform or plank.

      10. Never lean from the side of a ladder. If necessary, the task will be evaluated for potential fall hazards. Other alternative solutions will be used to allow a safe approach to the task.

    6. Stairs, ramps and walkways will be clear and in good condition. Always use the handrail provided when ascending or descending stairs.

    7. Employees will be cautioned to watch for holes, concrete dividers, curbs, discarded items, paper and other tripping hazards.

    8. During cold weather, employees will be cautioned about icy conditions on walkways and parking lots.

    9. Floor holes and openings will be protected by a cover or a standard railing. Should the cover or railing need to be removed, the floor opening or hole will be constantly attended by an attendant assigned to warn others of the hazard.

    10. Open-sided floors or platforms that are four or more feet above ground level will be provided with proper standard railing. When there is equipment that could fall from these elevations, the installation of a standard toe board is required.

    11. Scaffolds.

      There are several different types of scaffolds. Access to elevated locations or work at heights requires guardrails, fall protection, or personal fall arrest systems device. Employees will be cautioned that if the work cannot be performed from the ground or by other available means, the following general requirements for scaffolding will be met:

      1. Scaffolds will be used only when work cannot be performed from the ground or from solid construction.

      2. Footing or anchorage for scaffolds will be sound, rigid, and capable of carrying the intended load without settling or displacement. Unstable objects, including barrels, boxes, loose bricks or concrete blocks, will not be used to support scaffolds or planks. The use of base plates and mudsills is acceptable.

      3. Access to the scaffold must be provided by a ladder, ramp, or other safe means. Never use the side frames to access the scaffold.

      4. Scaffolds must be fully planked. The planks will not extend less than six inches and not more than 18 inches from the end.

      5. Scaffolds will not be used during storms, high wind, or when covered by ice or snow.

      6. Scaffolds over 10 feet from ground level must have standard guardrails, toeboards, and will be properly cross-braced.

      7. Mobile ladder stands and scaffolds will have positive wheel and/or swivel lock casters to prevent movement.