Yet again, fall protection was the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) number one cited workplace safety violation in 2013. The recent release was no surprise as the top 10 have generally stayed the same over the years with a little jockeying back and forth in certain spots, but what was a surprise was the increase in citations. There was a 45% increase in citations over what was essentially the same list as 2012.
In comparing the two years, 2012’s top 10 was compiled up of 29,179 total violations. Whereas 2013’s top 10 totaled 42,502 total violations. It’s a sad comparison when you consider the increasing amount and availability of training, PPE and educational materials available today. There’s no excuse, yet workers continue to neglect recommendations or policies that simply aimed at protecting them from harm.
Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2013
1. Fall Protection (8,241 violations)
The continued resident among the top includes failure to use guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems in residential construction; failure to protect open sides and edges; failure to prevent falls from roofs; and failure to cover holes.
2. Hazard Communication (6,156 violations)
With the recent deadline passing for OSHA’s revised communication standard on December, 1, this category may take the top spot in 2014 if organizations are not up to speed on the new regulations. This years most commonly cited requirements include failure to have a written program, inadequate employee education and training, improper or no labels on containers, and lack of, or access to, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and/or safety data sheets (SDSs).
3. Scaffolding (5,423 violations)
Scaffolding violations saw the biggest increase with 1609 more than the previous calendar year. Top cited violations in the scaffolding category include not providing safe access to scaffolding surfaces, lack of fall and/or falling object protection, and lack of guardrails.
4. Respiratory Protection (3,879 violations)
This category also saw a significant increase in citations. The majority of the violations included lack of a written respiratory program, improper respiratory selection for hazards present, improper respirator storage and fit, and lack of medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators.
5. Electrical, Wiring Methods (3,452 violations)
Electrical and wiring violations moved up three spots from number eight last year. The most common violations include problems with flexible cords and cables, boxes, and temporary wiring; poor use of extension cords; and using temporary wiring as permanent wiring.
6. Powered Industrial Trucks (3,340 violations)
Two of the most violated areas in the powered industrial truck category were inadequate operator training and poor condition of powered industrial trucks when returned to service after repair. This category also saw a significant increase in violations, moving from seventh (1,993 violations in 2012) to sixth this year.
7. Ladders (3,311 violations)
The ladder category is separate from the scaffolding and fall protection categories. Violations in the ladder category include damaged side rails, use of the top ladder step, using and inappropriate ladder for the job, and excessive ladder loads. Nearly a third of all fall-related deaths in the construction industry are from a ladder.
8. Lockout/Tagout (3,254 violations)
Poor or no energy control procedures, inadequate worker training, and incomplete inspections were the top contributors to this category. Violations more than doubled in this category. Last year’s total was 1,572.
9. Electrical, General Requirements (2,745 violations)
Electrical and general requirements moved up one spot from tenth last year. Exposure to electric shock and electrocution are two of the most commonly cited hazards in this category.
10. Machine Guarding (2,701 violations)
Although machine guarding went from sixth in 2012, to tenth this year, the category still saw an increase in violations by 604. Top violations in this category include point of operation exposures, inadequate or no anchoring of fixed machinery, and exposure to blades.
Stay Violation Free
Keeping out of OSHA’s books takes a team and culture that believes in the safety of one another and in the power of compliance. Keeping adequate documentation of your facility and reporting hazards immediately are a good way to stay on top of your organization’s goal to stay violation free.
Once you’ve identified potential threats, it’s time to take the action necessary to ensure they are eliminated from the facility. There should be a zero tolerance policy for hazardous situations and individuals in your facility. A zero tolerance policy, generally leads to zero violations, which also means a safe and sound facility.