Looking back on 2013, there are plenty of citations that occurred across North America, but some are more prevalent than others because of their common occurrence across multiple industries, as well as their inherent dangers. As we round the bend into the latter half of the first quarter of 2014, it is helpful to take a minute and do a quick refresher tour through the most ignored rules of 2013. This provides a chance for an internal check on your own operations to see if there are any similarities.

The OHSA has cited the following 10 as the most common problems of 2013:

1.1926.501 - Fall Protection - Fall Protection is a must, but it's also one of the most ignored safety measured. There needs to be some clarification on this standard in terms of whether people are getting injured by falling while standing, from a trip or other type of fall vs. those on ladders, scaffolding, or other props. As part of safety protocol, you should always be wearing a harness if above 3 meters in height.

2.1910.1200 - Hazard Communication — Workers who get in accidents just take new environmental changes as part of their daily routine without acknowledging the hazardous effects they can have on daily operations. To ensure that hazards are prevented, they must be identified each and every time the worksite changes. With new changes come new hazards, so take the time to identify and communicate these issues before an accident happens.

3.1926.451 - Scaffolding — Scaffolding can be hazardous to set up as well as hazardous to work on. Materials can fall and hit you in the head, and you can fall from the scaffolding decks or even get pinched by the bars. The best approach to scaffolding is to test the product, use undamaged material, always wear a harness and secure loose objects.

4.1910.134 - Respiratory Protection — Many people are either unaware of the respiratory problems on site, or just hoping to cut corners without using the proper protection. Some people cannot stand the feeling of having a hot and sweaty face under a mask, or the constricted air flow, but just because you can’t smell or see a toxic gas does not mean that it isn’t around. There are plenty of silent killers, and respiratory protection should always be used when the threat potential is high. A warm, sweaty face is nicer than a cold coffin.

5.1910.305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods — Do not cut corners on your wiring methods, even if they do not seem hazardous at the time. Down the road if there ever needs to be a repair or adjustment, the future workers will assume that the wiring has been done to code, and will be approaching the job accordingly. If wired incorrectly, you are setting others, and yourself, up for failure or an accident.

6.1910.178 - Powered Industrial Trucks — With industrial trucks it is critical that you get an overview of the machinery before operating. Do not try to be the know-it-all; get all the details of the rig before stepping into the driver’s seat. Also, just because you may be the biggest on the road doesn’t mean you can bully others, so be considerate and share the road. Safety is everyone’s business.

7.1926.1053 - Ladders — Never climb above the second top rung, and always have someone tending the ladder when you are working at heights. Workers take their ladders for granted, especially if they have been using them day in and out for years, but all it takes is a loose pebble under one of the stands, and an awkward movement. Voila! Injury! Be sure to ground your ladder firmly, tie it off, secure it, and have someone tend it. Remember, there are plenty of ways to do a job safely.

8.1910.147 - Lockout/Tagout — Do not cut corners on safety to cut costs. The cost to repair a damaged item is much cheaper than paying for medical bills or losing your livelihood. When you use an item and notice it is damaged, tag it and lock it out. Don’t just put it back in storage for the next person to see if they can use it. These moments just create potential accidents. Also, if an item is tagged and locked, do not use it! It may appear to be safe, but has been tagged and locked out for a reason. Don’t take the chance!

9.1910.303 - Electrical, General Requirements — Electricity and humans do not mix well. To be safe, you will want to use a safe approach around electrical devices at all times. This means understanding everything from how electricity travels to how to react if shocked. Always follow the guidelines, and if unsure, ask or check the information on how to proceed to always ensure a safe work routine.

10.1910.212 - Machine Guarding - Machine guarding is another common type of injury that can be prevented, but many workers choose to ignore this safety feature because they think it reduces their ability to perform excellent craftsmanship. For example, someone working on the metal grinder may see better without the guard, but if the object slips, it can fling hot metal into the worker’s eye or face. That's an incident that has happened in almost every machine shop across the country. Why? People are willing to take chances, but this is not the way to go. You must correct the problem. Ask for a clearer machine guard, or design a method that is safe so you are always protected.

Does this list have any similarities with your incident list so far this year? If so, it may be time for a safety standards refresher! Work hard, and be safe!