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Water Leaking from a Facility Pump Causes Contractor to Slip and Fall

Water Leaking from a Facility Pump Causes Contractor to Slip and Fall
   

 

   
An electrical contractor was working on a floor of a customer’s building that required materials to be prepared in the building’s mechanical room on a different floor.  While walking through the mechanical room the contractor slipped on a small puddle of water and fell.  The fall caused a contusion to the left side of his rib cage with strained muscles and abdominal pain.  The contractor was prescribed pain medication and given restricted work duty, but did not miss any work from the incident.
  
Prior to the incident the customer’s internal maintenance crew had closed off the valves to a leaking pump in the room, locked and tagged it out of service, placed a containment pan equipped with a hose under it (as the valves did not seal up properly), laid absorbent pads around it, and positioned a “caution wet floor” stand in the aisle.  The drain pan hose was directed to a floor drain behind the pump.  The
drain pan was observed capturing the water from the pump seal over the next two days.
   
On the morning of the incident the customer’s maintenance employee observed the drain pan capturing the water and the “caution wet floor” stand maintained in the aisle along with the absorbent pads.  However, some time before 1:30 PM that day the absorbent pads and “caution wet floor” stand were pushed to the other side of the aisle, apparently to allow an object to be moved through the aisle.  Also the hose from the drain pan was disturbed, restricting its water flow to the drain.  This caused the drain pan to overflow and water to enter the aisle.  A freshly painted high-gloss gray aisle made seeing the small amount of water on the floor difficult, and with the sign and absorbent pads moved to the other side of the aisle the electrical contractor did not see a visual warning of the hazard and slipped on the water.

 The contractor and owner’s representative documented the area and work generated hazards on a Safe Work Permit for floor where the work was to be done.  However, this was not done for the staging and cutting work in the mechanical room.  The electrical contractor’s crew was granted access to the mechanical room for this purpose, but the condition of the pump was not reviewed with them as an unusual hazard in the area. 
  

Factors to consider at your site and/or project include, but not limited to the following:

  • Ensure that the hazards of the areas where work will be performed, as well as those of areas that will be accessed, are communicated to contractors.  Be aware that this may require communication to be documented on more than one Safe Work Permit for the job. 
  • Ensure that hazards, such as the leaking pump in this incident, are well identified for pedestrians.  Yellow caution tape around the effected area, including the aisle, would have warned others in the area of the potential hazard.  Red danger tape along with notification signs should be used to identify an immediate hazard and inform people that special permission is required to enter the taped off area. 
  • Ensure that drain hoses are secured in a manner to prevent them from being compromised, as in this incident, or diverted from the floor drain. 
  • Ensure that floors where leaks would have a high potential for occurring, like a mechanical room, are finished in a manner to provide improved traction in a wet situation.  
  • Ensure that personnel, who use areas with a high potential for wet or slick walking surfaces such as mechanical rooms, have been instructed to pay extra attention to the condition of the walking surface.
Consider this example as you complete today’s work activities.
Safety Flash Action Items:
  • Date Contractor Safety Flash posted for all employees to review: _______________
  • Safety Talk meeting date: _______________
  • Full employee attendance and participation at safety meeting to review this incident (documentation required).
  • Employees understand urgency in protecting themselves and others.
  • Supervisors and Employees are clear which items shared in this Safety Flash are mandatory.
  • Employees/Supervisors will focus on recommended actions during future work activities of a similar nature.
Contract Firm Management Rep Signature____________________
Date____________
      

THINK about the hazards associated with your particular work, and the steps that can be taken to increase safety on your job.

 

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