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Obstacles

Obstacles may be temporary or permanent and typically encroach into walkways. The best solutions are designs that keep items off and away from walkways.

Assess the risk

Trips and falls from things on the floor

Obstacles on walkways may be a sign of poor workplace design or poor housekeeping, and these are often the cause of accidents.

Hazards may be:

  • temporary – rubbish, boxes, cables, tools, bags, pallets and temporary storage
  • permanent – poorly located machines, furniture, shelving, ground fittings/fixtures, tree roots affecting a path, areas of uneven ground or flooring.

At some workplaces the 'obstacles' and trip hazards may be small children or small animals.

The most hazardous obstacles are those that:

  • blend into the background
  • are unexpected
  • cannot easily be seen.

Decide on control measures

There are some simple methods of keeping obstacles and hazards away from walkways and work areas. Review your workplace and see what can be done.

The best workplace designs:

  • recess or rebate common structural trip hazards – e.g. sliding door frames, shower hobs etc.
  • provide clear and even surfaces for walkways, with plant, equipment and fittings and fixtures not extending into these areas and/or fenced off from the walkways.

Cabling, cords and hoses are a common source of trips. To reduce risks with these, consider options such as:

  • use cord/hose organizers to bundle them
  • recess permanent cabling/hosing if on the floor
  • use bevelled protective covers or tape to secure temporary cabling over the floor
  • use retractable holders
  • mount cords near or underneath the desk or work area where they are required
  • consider wall-mounted storage hooks, shelves, hose spools
  • suspend cords and cabling etc.