Every year, OSHA provides a list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations of the fiscal year. The list is based on almost 32,000 workplace inspections performed by federal OSHA staff. At the top of the list for workplace hazards are falls and injuries due to machinery starting unexpectedly. What is most frustrating is that these citations rarely change. More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year in the U.S., and about 3 million are injured.
There are laws in place to protect workers from just these sorts of safety hazards and concerns, but many employers and workers simply are unprepared to take action to prevent these types of accidents. Here is the list of top 10 OSHA citations and some insight into how you can prevent such occurrences.
1. Fall Protection
Falls are regularly among the leading causes of worker deaths and injury. Citations are often due to lack of simple fall protection such as floor hole covers, guard rai,l and toe-boards for elevated open-sided platforms, safety harness and lines, nets, and handrails. These actions protect workers from falls, but only if employers take the issue seriously.
2. Hazard communication
A failure in hazard communication can easily result in accidents on the work site. Safety is and should be considered everyone’s responsibility. Communicating risk and hazard recognition should be at the top of all employer’s minds.
OSHA provides specific instruction on how to improve the safety of both suspended and narrow frame scaffolds. Following guidance on construction, use, load, and minimizing hazards can help to reduce the number of incidents associated with scaffolding.
4. Respiratory protection
While respiratory protection is necessary to prevent long-term, even fatal, health problems from exposure to asbestos, silica, or other toxins, we still see citations for employers who fail to provide the necessary protection and training for their employees.
Far too many workers are killed or injured every year by machinery that starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them.
6. Powered industrial trucks
Forklifts are notoriously dangerous. The number of fatalities associated with these trucks shows that workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these machines.
Ladder safety covers topics such as loads, angle, rungs, slipping, and use. Citations (and accidents) are often the result of improper use of ladders. Review the OSHA guidelines on ladder use to make sure you are in compliance.
8. Machine guarding
Machine guarding violations are often to blame for deaths and injuries from lack of protection. This is a great concern because by simply installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevent amputations and worse.
9. Electrical wiring and 10. Electrical, general requirements
Safety concerns with unprotected exposure to electricity can easily lead to death or serious injury. However, OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees from dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. Make sure your workplace is up to code to help your employees avoid unnecessary injury or worse.