"It had rained for several days when we got to this jobsite. Not only was it muddy, but also the site was in an old swampland area, so the ground was already soft on a good day. We did our FLRA, and wrote mud as a hazard. We didn’t think there was anything we could do, and the job needed to be completed, so we said we would just have to deal with it. We had to carry a large piece of glass from the truck to the building to install. It might have been about a ten-foot move. After a couple of steps, I started to lose my balance and slipped backward, dropping the glass. I came down hard on my wrist using it to catch myself, and couldn’t move it after. Luckily, the glass did not break or fall on me. I had to take 3 days off work because of my wrist. My employer asked me why I didn’t call and tell him about the muddy conditions. I said I didn’t know it would have mattered. Next time, I’ll call before trying to deal with a ground hazard." - Dave (age 43) Glazier

Uneven ground can be a big hazard on a jobsite. Whether the uneven terrain is due to mud, hardened dirt, snow, or environmental debris, it poses a risk to your well-being. Ground conditions should be noted as a part of your daily risk assessment, and updated as the weather changes. Appropriate footwear should be worn on the jobsite, and the type of footwear may be dictated by the ground conditions on site. Ground conditions not only affect ground level workers, but also effect any type of machinery that moves along the surface of the jobsite, and all site vehicles as well. When operating machinery, be sure to make note of the ground conditions and ensure that the machine is equipped to deal with the terrain.

Quick Tips

  • Be sure to clear, as well as possible, the ground in your immediate surrounding. Use a shovel to clear dirt, pack mud, or clear the area of ice or snow
  • Slow your roll. Many slips and trips can be prevented by simply slowing down. Look where you're going, assess the conditions in front of you, and step with caution. If you don't have time to get the job done without rushing, how are you going to get it done when you've rolled your ankle and can't work?
  • Keep your work area tidy, especially when on uneven ground to reduce the tripping hazard
  • Think about what you might be able to do to alter the ground conditions. For example: If it is muddy, do you have access to some sheets of plywood to put down as a makeshift-walking surface? If it is icy, do you have some ice-melts available? Gravel? Cat litter? Any of these products will reduce the likelihood of slips and falls.
  • Let your employer know if ground conditions on site are unreasonable. Don’t put yourself at risk to get the job done. Your employer might have a solution that you have not thought of
  • Be sure to note the ground conditions on your daily hazard assessment. If an accident occurs, you’ve covered that base in advance