The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently unveiled its top 10 most frequently cited violations. The agency reports the leading causes of workplace injuries during its fiscal year (October through the following September).
The 2017 top 10 list of most frequently cited standards did not change significantly from 2016, with fall protection violations remaining at the top of the list. In fact, the top five most cited violations remained the same.
- Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501): 6,072 citations
- Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): 4,176 citations
- Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451): 3,288 citations
- Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134): 3,097 citations
- Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): 2,877 citations
- Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053): 2,241 citations
- Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): 2,162 citations
- Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): 1,933 citations
- Fall Protection Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503): 1,523 citations
- Electrical—Wiring Methods (29 CFR 1910.305): 1,405 citations
Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of injuries at work. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how to best protect workers is the first step in eliminating or reducing fall hazards. This includes, but is not limited to, guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems in conjunction with safe work practices and training.
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information must be available about the identities and hazards of all chemicals in use. OSHA standard 1910.1200 governs hazard communication to workers about chemicals that are both produced or imported into the workplace. Both the failure to develop and maintain a proper written training program for employees, as well as the failure to provide a Safety Data Sheet for every hazardous chemical, top the citation list.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of scaffold accidents can be attributed to the planking or support of the scaffold giving way, or to employees slipping or being struck by falling objects. The dangers associated with scaffold use can be controlled if employers strictly enforce OSHA standards.
Standard 1910.134 provides employers with guidance in establishing and maintaining a respiratory inspection program for program administration, worksite-specific procedures and respirator use. Respirators protect workers from oxygen-deficient environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards could cause cancer, lung impairment, and other diseases or death.
Lockout/tagout (LOTO) refers to specific practices and procedures that safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. Workers who service mechanical and electrical equipment face the greatest risk of injury if LOTO is not properly implemented. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
These types of violations typically occur when ladders are used for purposes other than those designated by the manufacturer, such as when the top step of a stepladder is used as a step, when ladders are not used on stable and level surfaces, or when defective ladders are not withdrawn from service. Most employee injuries can be attributed to inadequate training and a disregard for safe operating procedures.
Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (particularly forklifts) occur. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are driven off of loading docks or when they fall between docks and unsecured trailers. Other common injuries involve employees being struck by lift trucks or falling from elevated pallets and tines. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls and machinery.
When left exposed, moving machine parts have the potential to cause serious workplace injuries, such as amputations, burns, blindness, and crushed fingers or hands. The risk of employee injury is substantially reduced by installing and maintaining the proper machine guarding.
Because falls represent such a serious risk, employers must train employees to identify potential fall hazards and follow procedures in order to minimize the chance of a fall. According to OSHA, employees should be trained to use fall protection methods, such as guardrails, safety nets and personal fall arrest systems, and employers should verify that employees have been trained by preparing written certification records.
Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers, such as electric shock, electrocution, fires and explosions. Electrical wiring violations that top the electrical citation list include the failure to install and use electrical equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions, failure to guard electrical equipment, failure to identify disconnecting means or circuits, and not keeping workspaces clear.