Top 10 OSHA Safety Violations You May Have Committed Last Year
Be aware of these common safety violations and ensure that they don't occur in your workplace.
The statistics are devastating. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Blog, each year, more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job and approximately 3 million are injured. Shockingly, these numbers have remained untouched for years, despite OSHA’s many efforts to stress the importance of safety in the industry.
Although the number of injured workers has dropped significantly since OSHA first started making the workforce safer 43 years ago (in 1970, around 14,000 workers were killed on the job), the regulations are still strictly enforced to ensure that those who work in the construction, agriculture, maritime, and general industries are protected.
“Making a living shouldn’t have to cost you your life. Workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are preventable. Safe jobs happen because employers make the choice to fulfill their responsibilities and protect their workers.” - Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
Under the OSH Act, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace. This includes, but is not limited to, providing signs, labels, tags, personal protective equipment, machine guards, and recognizing any hazards and complying with the standards, rules, and regulations issued under OSH Act (but be sure to also find out Why Creating a Safety Culture Is Better than Relying on Compliance).
Throughout the years, thousands of OSHA inspectors continue to see the same on-the-job hazards, many of which could easily lead to serious injury or death, not to mention hefty fines. It’s obvious that accidents are avoidable, yet far too many continue to occur in the workplace (see The Journey to Zero! to learn more about zero-accident workplaces).
OSHA's Annual List
Every October, OSHA publishes a list of that year's Top 10 OSHA Safety Violations to alert employers and employees to the most commonly cited standards. The idea is to encourage everyone to take any necessary steps to find and fix hazards in and around their workplace.
When OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, Patrick Kapust, released this year's list at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Anaheim, he said, “Take the list and look at your own workplace off of that list. These are the things OSHA is finding. Would they find these at my workplace? It’s a good place to start.”
Would OSHA Find Safety Violations at Your Workplace?
Use this list of Most Frequently Cited Standards and these safety tips and compare it to the safety practices at your workplace. Make it your resolution to re-evaluate safety so you and your employees can make smarter, safer choices at work.
Ask yourself and your coworkers, "Are any of these safety violations a concern at our workplace?" If the answer is "yes," now is the ideal time to shape things up so everyone can get home safely this year, while also avoiding a costly OSHA fine.
Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2016
#1 Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501)
Safety Tip: Provide construction and industry workers with guardrails, elevated platforms, required safety harnesses, hard hats, and safety signage and labels to keep them safe from serious injuries (learn How to Prevent Fall Protection Equipment Malfunction). Keep others safe by following OSHA regulations for fall protection.
#2 Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200)
Safety Tip: Provide a comprehensive hazard communication program, including container labeling and signage, identifying of specific hazards, safety data sheets, and appropriate employee training, per OSHA standards.
#3 Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451)
Safety Tip: Provide each employee working on a scaffold more than 10 feet above a lower level with protection from failing to the lower lever. Install guardrail systems along all open sides and ends of platforms and keep all working levels fully planked or decked in accordance with OSHA (see Can I use scaffold cross brace instead of guard rails? to learn more about proper scaffolding). Use scaffold tags, signs, and labels to effectively communicate safety to others.
#4 Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
Safety Tip: Provide your workers with a written respiratory protection program aimed at preventing atmospheric contamination (find out What Is the Difference between Contaminants and Pollutants). Additionally, when workers are exposed to contaminated air, provide them with necessary equipment to protect their health and adhere with OSHA standards (check out these 6 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Respiratory Protection Device).
#5 Control of Hazardous Energy — Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)
Safety Tip: Provide your workforce with a written energy control program that includes specific procedures for lockout/tagout. Ensure that all employees have adequate training and the devices needed to securely lockout machines and equipment prior to servicing or maintaining them. Follow OSHA regulations to prevent serious injuries.
#6 Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)
Safety Tip: Provide all operators of power industrial trucks, forklifts, powered pallet jacks, stand-up rider lift trucks, order pickers, and the like with the appropriate training. Inspect equipment prior to operating at least daily and report and correct defects immediately. Ensure that all operators have a performance evaluation at least once every three years.
#7 Ladders (1926.1053)
Safety Tip: Provide all employees with training on the proper way to use a ladder. Ensure that all ladders are inspected for quality prior to use, and if a ladder is found defective, tag it with a "Do Not Use" message and make sure it is not accessible to others during servicing. Follow OSHA guidelines for safely using ladders (see Fall Protection and Ladders for more advice).
#8 Machine Guarding — General Requirement (29 CFR 1910.212)
Safety Tip: Provide machine guarding to protect the operator and others from serious dangers associated with machines, such as exposure to sharp blades, sparks, pinch points, and flying material. Follow OSHA general requirements for all machines.
#9 Electrical — Wiring Methods (29 CFR 1910.305)
Safety Tip: Avoid using temporary wiring, such as extension or flexible cords, and never put cables through wall holes or ceilings (doing so in the workplace is an OSHA violation). All completed outlet boxes need a cover, faceplate, or fixture canopy. Follow OSHA wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use requirements to stay safe.
#10 Electrical — General Requirement (29 CFR 1910.303)
Safety Tip: Provide proper marking on all electrical equipment and never use equipment in the workplace that is labeled "For Home Use Only." Ensure that employees know not to plug power strips into extension cord, rather than into wall outlets. Keep all electric equipment away from recognized hazards and read OSHA guidelines to keep others safe (for more, learn about the Five Leading Electrical Hazards and How to Avoid Them).
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