The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) strives to make America’s workplaces safer for employees. Every fiscal year OSHA surveys the most frequently cited standards for workplace safety violations and publishes the list to help spread awareness and improve worker safety. Here are the top 10 OSHA violations from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015:
Falls are number one on OSHA’s most frequently cited standards list, as well as number one in construction’s “fatal four.” According to OSHA statistics, falls made up 39.9% of all construction worker deaths in 2014. Construction workers often perform their duties from dangerous heights, on the roofs of buildings or from scaffolding. Multiple OSHA requirements dictate how construction companies and workers must construct and operate from scaffolding and heights greater than six feet above the ground. Common violations include unprotected sides and edges, uncovered holes, dangerous equipment, and lack of personal fall protection gear.
Workplaces frequently violated OSHA’s standards for hazardous and toxic chemicals, including failing to label containers properly and warn employees of the dangers of handling the chemicals. Companies often failed to circulate safety data sheets and offer proper employee training.
Scaffolding accidents contribute to the number of construction worker fatalities every year. Scaffolds must support their own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load without failure. There are a number of regulations regarding scaffolding operation, suspension ropes, hardware, and construction. Breaking any of these rules can lead to catastrophic scaffolding failures.
Adequate respiratory protection is a critical safety element in many workplaces, to avoid significant health problems related to toxic chemicals, construction dust, smokes, gases, fumes, fogs, or vapors. Frequent violations include failure to adhere to accepted engineering control measures, failure to provide respirators to employees when necessary to protect health, and failure to train employees for proper safety procedures and respirator use.
Controlling hazardous energy is a task that requires proper machine maintenance and servicing. Otherwise, a company risks unexpected starting up of machines and equipment and dangerous releases of stored energy.
Powered Industrial Trucks
Operating fork trucks, platform lift trucks, tractors, motorized hand trucks, and other industrial trucks requires sufficient employee training and experience. OSHA has requirements for the design, maintenance, use, and fire protection when operating industrial trucks. A company may fail to adhere to use requirements or make dangerous modifications to the vehicle.
Along with scaffolding, ladders are another top cause of harmful fall accidents in the workplace. Employers may violate OSHA ladder regulations by using the incorrect type of ladder for the application, letting ladders fall into disrepair, failing to train employees to use ladders correctly, and failing to equip employees with the proper fall protection gear when necessary.
Electrical, Wiring Methods
Electrocutions are the second most common cause of construction worker deaths according to OSHA. Violations in electrical and wiring methods, such as lack of proper training or safety gear, can lead to worker electrocutions, shocks, electrical burns, and death. Employers must use only industry-approved wiring methods. Any deviation, resulting in employee injury, is negligence.
Workers who handle heavy machinery and large pieces of equipment are at great risk of crush, caught in/between, and amputation injuries. OSHA commonly cites violated machine guarding standards such as barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, and electronic safety devices. Proper machine guards on shears, power presses, milling machines, and portable power tools can prevent catastrophic injury.
Electrical, General Requirements
Aside from safe and effective wiring techniques, OSHA also has safety and health standards for electrical applications in general. Violations of these standards include failure to properly examine and install electrical equipment, failure to properly use electrical insulation, and failure to use electrical equipment according to industry standards.
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