The Occupational Safety and Health Administration maintains guidelines concerning safety issues related to weight limitations on floors. The regulations do not specify the amount of weight a floor must be able to support, but rather these regulations specify how notices of the weight limits must be posted. These OSHA requirements are especially relevant to the construction sites of multilevel buildings, where construction equipment and materials are often stored at various elevations.
OSHA Guidelines and Compliance
OSHA specifies that the effective safe load limit for all floors be posted in pounds per square foot. The regulations apply to any floor other than a concrete slab poured on the ground.
These regulations specify a minimum of one sign per storage area. Documentation of where the sign is placed and its content should be kept in case any problem occurs. Employees should be shown the sign locations, and supervisors and employees should discuss the importance of maintaining safe loads. The employees are responsible for not overloading the area once signs are posted and they are informed of their presence.
The calculation of the safe weight limit can be done using any valid engineering method. The accuracy of the weight limit is the employer’s responsibility.
Weight limits particularly need to be posted in areas used for storage in multilevel construction sites. The project general contractor is generally responsible for posting the load limits. They should inform subcontractors of the signage and should expect them to operate in safe limits.
In construction projects, it is the customary practice that copies of the engineering drawings, including the weight limits for the floors, be posted at the project site. OSHA regulations allow the signs to be drawn by hand on paper or scrap construction material found on the site. Although there is no requirement that the signs be weatherproof, they must be replaced immediately in the event that they are blown away by wind or destroyed by rain.
The intent of these rules is to prevent injuries to workers due to the collapse of a building. Because OSHA regulations allow signs that are made on location of locally available materials, it attaches no cost to compliance with these regulations other than the time necessary to research the weight limits of the floor and to handwrite a sign. OSHA estimates a cost of compliance for these regulations at five minutes of management time per sign.
Keith Allen, a 1979 graduate of Valley City State College, has worked at a variety of jobs including computer operator, medical clinic manager, radio talk show host and potato sorter. For over five years he has worked as a newspaper reporter and historic researcher. His works have appeared in regional newspapers in North Dakota and in "North Dakota Horizons" and "Cowboys and Indians" magazines.