April is the month for rain showers — and mud. Mud is a major contributor to many safety issues that lead to severe work-site accidents and injuries. All mud is slippery; the higher the clay content of the soil, the slipperier the mud. It sticks to the bottom of boots and tires and transforms any surface it touches into a potential slip hazard. Every year, dozens of falls occur because workers slip off of ladder rungs, equipment and walk surfaces as they attempt to climb or walk while wearing muddy boots. Driving accidents occur when muddy boots slip off the brake or accelerator pedals, causing the driver to lose control.
Mud is impossible to eliminate; however, if you follow the guidelines below, your work environments will be cleaner and safer during the rainy season.
- Lay down gravel or geo cloth to protect walkways and keep mud from forming.
- Use boot brushes or other means to clean off your boots before walking on smooth surfaces where you might slip.
- Maintain drainage on job sites and roads, so water doesn’t pool in low areas, forming mud puddles.
- Always clean mud from your boots before you climb on anything.
- Clean tool handles prior to storage.
- Keep material staging areas well drained, and stack material using cribbage so that it is up off the ground.
- Position portable toilets on higher, well-drained ground, so workers don’t have to walk through pools of mud to reach them.
- Provide sufficient dunnage for cranes and other equipment, so they are working on stable surfaces.