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Access and egress refer to the rate or means of entry and exit to a workplace or work area. Routes that provide access and egress should be controlled, safe, suitably constructed, kept free of obstructions and well maintained. Serious injury can result from hazards such as fires, slips and trips, contact with moving vehicles, unauthorised entry into hazardous work areas, falls into floor openings and falls into water, when access and egress arrangements are not properly maintained.
We will cover each of these hazards in turn during the course of this presentation, and will demonstrate the importance of maintaining safe access and egress arrangements.
It is extremely important to always know who is on site at any given time, and aware of personnel present in a particular work area. In the event of an emergency, such as a fire, it will then be possible to determine whether anyone has been unable to evacuate the site. It will also be possible to direct rescue services to the appropriate work area. You should, therefore, always follow the appropriate access control procedures every time you enter or exit a site or a controlled work area.
Egress routes need to be clearly marked out, well lit, unobstructed and well maintained if they are to allow personnel and others on site to exit quickly in the event of an emergency. For these reasons, you should never lay down or store tools, equipment, work pieces or other items on routes of egress. Operations should be planned so that they do not damage egress routes, and any accidental damage should be rectified immediately.
Contain and report any spills that are likely to affect egress routes. Holes should be repaired, covered, or guarded and reported. And you should consider whether any waste water runoff produced as a result of your operations is likely to affect egress routes. Most importantly, make sure that you are familiar with the egress route from your work area and from the site, so that you can quickly and safely exit the work place in the event of an emergency.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Egress routes are often also access routes, and part of your work area. But even when they are not, access routes and work areas should be kept in a safe, unobstructed and well maintained condition, as this can help to reduce the risk of dangerous slip and trip accidents.
Slips and trips represent a significant cause of work related injury. Slips and trips can result from contamination, obstacles, inappropriate footwear, reduced visibility, the environment and people’s attitudes. Good workmanship and good housekeeping are practices that can help to prevent accidents and fires. By removing debris, slag, packaging and other waste materials to waste skips, you can contribute significantly to good housekeeping. You can also reduce the risk of slips and trips by properly routing any cables or air hoses that you use, by placing fixed covers over small holes in flooring, by ensuring that you always wear appropriate footwear, by holding the handrails when you use stairs or access ladders, by considering whether the environment in which you will be working increases the risk of slips and trips and by taking responsibility for your own and your colleagues safety and appropriately containing any spills that you might discover.
Each year, a number of people die as a result of being struck by a moving or falling object. In most cases, these deaths involved accidents relating to vehicles in the work place. It is important to separate vehicles and pedestrians in your work area, and to remember that only suitably trained, certified and authorised people should operate mobile plant, that you should always be aware of vehicle movements within your workplace and that you stick to pedestrian routes when going to or leaving your work area.
Arrangement of your Work Area
Your work area should be organised to ensure that you have enough height and space for access and egress, as well as to move around and carry out operations safely. Low level ceilings or pipe-work should be highlighted. Particular safe working procedures are required in work areas with limited access and egress, including confined spaces.
Hazardous Work Areas
Access restrictions, such as barriers, are required for hazardous work areas. Machine shops, elevated work platforms, confined spaces, roofs, floor openings and work areas over or near water pose significant hazards and it should not be possible for unauthorised personnel to enter these areas. Please stick to designated pedestrian walkways if you need to walk past or through these work areas and do not be tempted to cross barriers or take unnecessary short cuts. If you need to work in a hazardous area, you must follow the specific access procedures for your work area. This may include access control and equipment control. You may not be able to take personal items into certain work areas, such as confined spaces. You will also need to be familiar with the rescue plan established for some work areas, including confined spaces and work areas near water. If you operate powered access equipment, you must be suitably trained and authorised.
All floor openings should be guarded by scaffold barriers and toe boards, and appropriate warning signs should be displayed to prevent falls. Personnel working within the barrier must wear a safety harness attached to secure anchor points. When operations are suspended for significant periods, additional precautions should be considered, including fixed covers. Covers should be made of a suitable, load bearing material.
Working Over or Near Water
Safe access and egress routes to and from work areas near or over water should be established. Buoyancy aids should be available and a first aid box should be provided at the operational site. Work over water requires specialist scaffolding which should be erected by fully trained personnel. You should never interfere with safeguards or make unauthorised alterations to this scaffolding. All personnel who work near water should be trained in resuscitation techniques and they should never work alone. An in situ risk assessment should be conducted to determine whether additional controls are necessary to prevent falls into the water, which may result in drowning, the ingestion of pollutants, exposure to water borne diseases and resultant illness. Additional controls may include full netting of the scaffold, harnesses and safety lines, life jackets and a rescue boat. If a rescue boat is required, two experienced personnel should serve as crew. Consideration should be given to whether the water is tidal, deep or on an estuary, whether strong currents prevail and whether there are straight sided banks, in determining how rescue will be affected. Particular hazards and risks to the boat crew will also need to be assessed, and a shore based supervisor may need to be provided. Radio and mobile communications should be established.
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