protection, hazard communication and scaffolding violations top the list again
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Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced the 10 most
frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2017. The results
are preliminary, but the agency doesn’t expect much to change.
10 list is pretty consistent from year to year with maybe a slight change in
the ordering of the violations,” said Tressi Cordaro, an attorney with
Jackson Lewis in Washington, D.C. “The hazards covered by the standards on
this list are generally severe hazards, such as fall protection, lockout/tagout
and machine guarding.”
protection is such a big category because a lot of fatalities are due to
falls—particularly in construction but also in general industry, said Ed
Foulke, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Atlanta and the former head of OSHA
under George W. Bush. Employers are required to notify OSHA within eight hours
of a fatality, which prompts a workplace inspection.
that new rules on fall protection, ladders and walking/working surfaces may
lead to changes in the top violations for fiscal year 2018.
are the top 10 cited violations as announced by OSHA at the National Safety
Council’s 2017 Congress and Expo in Indianapolis in September:
1. Fall Protection. There were 6,072 fall protection violations
in the construction industry. This number is down from 6,906 in fiscal year
2016. These violations include failing to guard edges and open sides to prevent
workers from falling.
2. Hazard Communication. There were 4,176 citations in 2017, which is
down from 5,665 in 2016. Employers that use hazardous chemicals must have a
written hazard communication program. They are also required to label all
containers and provide safety data sheets and training to employees.
3. Scaffolding. There were fewer scaffolding violations in
the construction industry in 2017 (3,288) than in 2016 (3,900). Safety
violations include issues with scaffold construction, employee access to
scaffolding surfaces and lack of guardrails.
4. Respiratory Protection. Violations fell by 476 to 3,097 in 2017.
Violations include failing to have a written respiratory-protection program and
failing to conduct required medical examinations for workers who use
5. Lockout/Tagout. Violations have dropped by 529 to 2,877.
Lockout/tagout procedures are meant to safeguard employees when machinery
starts up unexpectedly or when hazardous energy is released during maintenance
activities. Failing to train workers or conduct periodic inspections account
for many violations.
6. Ladders. Improper use of ladders resulted in 2,241 citations in
2017 compared to 2,625 in 2016.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks. Forklift drivers must be trained, certified
and reevaluated every three years. Improper fork lift use and training account
for many violations. There were 2,162 violations in 2017 compared to 2,855 in
8. Machine Guarding. There were 1,933 total violations in
2017—down from 2,448 in 2016. Machine guarding is meant to protect workers from
point-of-operation hazards and dangers caused by ingoing nip points, rotating
parts, flying chips and sparks. Point-of-operation hazards account for most
9. Fall Protection Training Requirements. There were 1,523 fall protection training
violations in 2017. This category wasn’t on the top ten list in 2016.
10. Electrical Wiring Methods. Faulty electrical wiring methods accounted for
1,405 violations—down from 1,937 in 2016. Frequent violations include improper
use of extension cords.
employers have hazards at the worksite that are on this list, they should
review their programs and policies to ensure they are up-to-date and in
compliance,” Cordaro said.
Since a lot of
the frequent violations on this list relate to training, employers should also
periodically audit their training records to make sure all employees have
received appropriate training for the hazards they encounter in their daily
jobs, she added. “For issues like machine guarding, periodic walkarounds
help to ensure all guards are in place or that missing guards are caught and
corrected before an incident occurs.”
be a challenge for small and midsize businesses because they may not have a
full-time safety professional on staff, Foulke said, noting that businesses of
any size can do the following:
- Hold weekly safety talks. Employers should review
all the applicable OSHA standards and talk to employees for about 15
minutes on one topic each week. After a year, an employer should have
touched on all the relevant topics at least once.
- Post a list of safety rules and enforce them.
Employers should make sure workers are familiar with the rules and
understand that violations of the rules won’t be tolerated.
- Look at OSHA 300 logs (which employers use to
record worksite injuries and illnesses) and conduct an incident analysis
for each entry to figure out the root cause of the incidents and ways to
eliminate future risks.
- Perform an accident investigation and root cause
analysis for near misses as well. These are incidents that could have
easily resulted in a serious injury but did not.
These steps can have a dramatic impact on a business’
safety program and in the long run can reduce the expenses associated with
workplace injuries and illnesses, Foulke said.
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