The Occupational Safety & Health Administration, more commonly known as OSHA, ensures that employers provide a safe and healthful workplace. According to their website,OSHA enforces work safety standards and provides training, outreach, education and assistance to businesses. Employers must comply with all applicable OSHA standards.
In 2017, it’s more important than ever that your business is in compliance with OSHA’s safety requirements; in January, the cost for workplace safety violations increased by 78%. The current maximum penalty for serious, other-than-serious and posting requirements is now $12,471 per violation. Repeated violations have increased from a $70,000 fine to a $124,709 fine, per violation. Needless to say, it’s worth your time to take the necessary steps to avoid any OSHA violations.
To avoid a violation, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs suggests businesses review the list of most commonly violated OSHA policies, and examine whether your business is in compliance. “These are the most common things OSHA is finding. Ask yourself, ‘Would they find these at my workplace?’ It’s a good place to start.” According to Safety and Health Magazine, OSHA issued a total of more than 35,000 citations in its Top 10 categories during fiscal 2016, which ended Sept. 30.
To help your business become more informed of OSHA’s safety requirements, we’ve outlined the top ten OSHA violations as of 2016, below:
Top 10 OSHA Violations (as of 2016)
- 1926.501 – Fall Protection
- 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
- 1926.451 – Scaffolding
- 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
- 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
- 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
- 1926.1053 – Ladders
- 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
- 1910.212 – Machine Guarding
- 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements
Arbill explains more about each specific violation:
1) Fall Protection
For the past 5 years fall protection has reigned as the most common violation on this list. In 2014 there were 793 fatal and 261,920 non-fatal injuries resulting from an employee falling on the same level or to a lower level surface. Employers must protect their workers and take the following steps to ensure their safety:
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor and runway
- Include safety harness and line, safety nets, and hand rail
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment to workers and train workers about job hazards.
Scaffold accidents can be caused by misuse (using a scaffold as a ladder) or often it can be due to improper training and deficient or damaged platforms. OSHA has set forth a list of guidelines to help avoid these tragedies which can be found here. It is important to follow OSHA’s advice by providing proper fall protection equipment and ensure your employees are properly trained.
3) Hazard Communication
Chemicals pose not only health hazards, like irritation, sensitization and carcinogenicity, but also physical hazards, such as flammability, corrosion and reactivity. All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, train them to handle chemicals responsibly and provide the necessary protective equipment to ensure their safety.
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) refers to specific procedures to prevent injuries due to unexpected startup of machinery or release of hazardous energy during maintenance activities. Make sure your practices conform to the site lockout procedure in order to safeguard against injuries such as amputations and death. Encourage your employees to always ask for direction if they have an uncertainty.
Ladder accidents happen when workers select the wrong ladder for the job, don’t inspect it for missing or broken pieces or get careless about how they use it. It is important for employees to make sure ladders are in good condition before use, use the correct ladder for the job, never use a metal ladder near electrical wires and never use ladders in place of platforms, skids or braces.
6) Respiratory Protection
Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. If someone is exposed to these hazards it can cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases or death. The fit of the respirator around the nose, mouth, or face is crucial to guarding the worker against these hazardous atmospheres. Oftentimes respirators may not fit correctly, do not provide the proper protection or employees may not be trained on how to wear the respirators correctly.
7) Machine Guarding
Moving machine parts create workplace hazards. Machine guarding protects employees from nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks with barrier guards, light curtains and two-hand operating devices. In order to avoid these injuries, you should never bypass a moving equipment guard and always report damaged or missing guards. Make sure all workers take injury preventative actions until a damaged guard is repaired or missing guard put back into place.
8) Powered Industrial Trucks
Tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur each year in workplaces across the U.S. Most PIT incidents involve property damage as well. Unfortunately, most injuries and damages are due to lack of safe operating procedures, deficient safety-rule enforcement and inadequate training.
9) Electrical – Wiring Methods
Wires must be kept away from hazardous areas that could cause harm. Secure all wires to keep them safe with the ground of electrical equipment, wiring and insulation. In addition, before a flexible (extension) cord set is used, instruct all workers to inspect for two things: external defects – like loose parts, missing pins or damage to insulation – and evidence of internal damage – such as a pinched or crushed outer jacket. Replace cords that power “fixed” equipment with appropriate permanent wiring and practice running extension cords overhead or taping them down to prevent tripping.
10) Electrical – General Requirements
General electrical violations stem from failure to install and use equipment according to factory instructions, to guard electrical equipment, to identify disconnecting means and circuits and to keep work spaces clear. All safety requirements must be met and hazardous areas marked.
It’s increasingly important to become educated on OSHA’s requirements for the workplace to maintain a safe environment for employees and avoid hefty fines. OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful work environments by setting and enforcing standards. Familiarize yourself, and your employees, with OSHA’s most commonly violated policies as a precautionary practice. As Arbill states, “Failing to be in compliance and violating these standards can be very costly to the lives of your employees and the livelihood of your business.” (Arbill, 2016). Explore our additional helpful blog posts today.