Walking is one of the most elementary tasks performed on the jobsite. Most people innately learned to walk before they can remember. But the reality is that walking poses risks to safety, just like more complex, job-specific tasks. In fact, slips, trips, and falls account for the second most common reason employees suffer injuries that require days away from work. As a team, workers must walk intentionally — paying keen attention to vision, direction, pace, and potential hazards — to reduce workplace walking-related incidents and injuries.
PLH Group and its 11 energy-focused construction companies provide power line and pipeline construction and specialty services for the electric power line, pipeline, oil field electrical, and industrial markets. Safety, integrity, teamwork, and professionalism are the organization’s core values, ensuring that all workers consistently perform as a team to keep each other safe and deliver industry-leading work. Employees are thoroughly trained in job-specific work, as well as held accountable for upholding PLH Group’s reputable safety culture. This includes giving care and attention to all tasks, including something as elementary as walking. After all, walking is working, too!
Common causes of slips and trips on a construction site include:
Eyes not on the path
Muddy, wet, icy steps on heavy equipment, trucks, and walkways
Uneven walking surfaces
Transition from one surface type to another
Excavation entrances and exits
Damaged or irregular steps
Steps without a handrail
Obstructions and materials on steps
Entrances into holes
Excavations not safeguarded
Falls from a ladder or construction equipment
Operational and behavioral tips to avoid walking-related incidents include:
Thoroughly complete a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) prior to starting work. Give workers an opportunity to ask questions and provide suggestions.
Perform pre-job briefs as a team. Reduce confusion — which often leads to distraction — by clearly discussing tasks and assigning responsibilities prior to the start of work.
Practice responsible housekeeping. Get into a clean-as-you-work routine to ensure clutter, debris, and materials do not become walking hazards.
Keep walking surfaces dry, clean, and in good condition. This includes show-up yards, right-of-ways (ROWs), and all other work surfaces. If necessary and appropriate, treat them with anti-skid, salt, or sand.
Ensure the integrity of floor mats. They should be in good, working condition, as well as laid flat to avoid tripping hazards.
Avoid working in a hurry. This likely causes irrational walking, missing potential hazards.
Avoid distracting or obstructing behaviors. These may include taking short cuts, using a cell phone while walking, carrying materials that obstruct vision, wearing sunglasses in low-lit areas, walking on surfaces that are not designated walkways, walking at an inappropriate pace.
The actions you take can not only prevent yourself from a walking-related incident, but can prevent incidents for others. Remember that no matter how elementary the task appears, every task performed on the jobsite has the potential to be hazardous. Ensure that you never have a lapse in safety, regardless of the simplicity of the task. By implementing best practices and maintaining continual attention to potential hazards, walking-related hazards will be minimized.