The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) annually releases its list of the top ten most frequent workplace infractions. This list is based on the number of citations issued by OSHA, and it can help business owners and HR managers understand which safety measures they should take to protect their employees.
Fall protection continues to be the most frequently violated standard, with 5,260 citations this year. This is followed by hazard communication, which had 2,424 violations, and respiratory protection, with 2,185 violations.
At National Safety Compliance, we want to empower you to create a safe and compliant workplace. To help you to ensure that your workplace is safe and compliant with OSHA standards, we’ve put together this blog post detailing the top ten most frequent workplace violations. We’ll also provide some tips on how you can avoid these infractions in your workplace.
1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501):
Fall protection is the most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 5,260 violations this year. Though it may seem like common sense to protect your employees from falls, many businesses still don’t have proper fall protection measures.
Falls are a leading cause of injuries in the workplace, so you must take steps to prevent them. To ensure compliance with these standards, employers should educate employees working at heights of six feet or more about fall safety.
Employers should also ensure that walking/working surfaces have the structural integrity and strength to support employees. This means ensuring that floor holes are covered, repairs are made to deteriorating surfaces, and slippery conditions are mitigated.
2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200):
Hazard communication is the second most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 2,424 violations. A written hazard communication program must be in place in workplaces that produce or work with hazardous materials. This program should include information on the dangers of the chemicals present and the proper procedures for handling them.
Employers must ensure that chemical labels are legible and that MSDS sheets are readily available. You should also train employees to spot the signs and symptoms of chemical exposure early.
3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134):
Respiratory protection is the third most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 2,185 violations. These standards are in place to protect employees who work in environments where they may be exposed to harmful airborne particles.
Employers are advised to provide a written respiratory program for situations where employees are likely to come in contact with airborne contaminants. This program should include information on the proper selection, use, and maintenance of respirators.
Employers must also ensure compliance with all other OSHA statutory and regulatory requirements under routine and reasonably foreseeable emergencies. OSHA also has some examples of appropriate respirators, such as air-purifying respirators and positive-pressure respirators.
4. Ladders (1926.1053):
Unlike ladders for use at home, industrial ladders are subject to more stringent design, construction, and usage requirements. Ladder safety protocols are the fourth most frequently violated OSHA standard, with 2,143 violations.
Ladder safety is crucial in the workplace, as falls from ladders can cause injuries and even fatalities. Most ladder accidents can be prevented by following some basic safety guidelines.
To ensure compliance with these standards, some safety rules must be followed when using ladders:
- Ladders should only be used on level, stable surfaces to prevent them from tipping over.
- Employees should use manuals received from the manufacturer on how to use ladders safely and properly.
- Fixed ladders should be used at an angle of no more than 90 degrees from the horizontal, as measured to the back of the ladder.
5. Scaffolding (1926.451):
With 2,058 violations, scaffolding is the fifth most frequently violated OSHA standard. With this many violations, it’s clear that scaffolding safety is often overlooked in the workplace.
OSHA has put together some general scaffolding safety requirements that all employers must follow: When it comes to capacity, scaffolds should be able to support, without failure, an employee’s weight and at least four times the maximum intended load. Scaffolds should only be erected, used, dismantled, or altered under the supervision of a qualified person. It is also important that employees are trained on the proper procedures for using scaffolds safely.
6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147):
With a total of 1,977 OSHA violations, the “Lockout/Tagout” standard needs to be improved upon. This standard is in place to protect workers from the unexpected startup or release of energy during servicing and maintenance of machines.
Lockout/tagout procedures require that all energy sources be isolated and locked before work can begin. The standard applies to electrical and non-electrical energy sources, such as chemical, mechanical, pneumatic, and hydraulic.
All workers who may be exposed to these hazards must be trained in the proper procedures for lockout/tagout. The training should include information on how to identify and control the energy sources, and how to work on machines that are locked out safely. By following the lockout/tagout procedures, workers can help prevent these accidents.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178):
Internal combustion engine-powered hand trucks, forklifts, and other vehicles are non battery-powered mechanical equipment. Employers must instruct all personnel who drive these trucks about safe usage and maintenance, as improper use of these vehicles has brought total OSHA infractions this year to 1,749.
Some OSHA requirements for powered industrial trucks cover these vehicles’ fire protection guidelines, design, maintenance, and use. However, these standards do not apply to compressed air- or nonflammable compressed gas-powered trucks, farm vehicles, or vehicles used mainly for earthmoving or hauling purposes.
8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503):
1,556 companies failed to meet fall protection requirements for employee training this year. With falls being one of the leading causes of construction fatalities, it’s crucial that all employees who work at heights are properly trained in fall safety protocols.
OSHA has established specific fall protection training criteria to reduce the number of fall-related injuries and fatalities. All workers exposed to falling dangers while working must receive this training.
Recognizing the hazards associated with working on high platforms and understanding the actions to take to minimize these risks should be instilled in each employee through this training by a qualified person. Employers must also ensure that if an employee who has received training in fall protection does not understand or retain the required information, that employee must go through the training process again.
9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment–Eye and Face Protection (1926.102):
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential for workplace safety. According to OSHA, PPE is “specialized clothing or equipment worn by an employee for protection against actual or potential safety and health hazards.” This category of equipment includes items such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, and earplugs.
One of the most important pieces of PPE is eye and face protection. There are currently 1,401 OSHA violations in this category.
This type of PPE is necessary whenever there is a danger of flying objects, chemicals, or electrical hazards. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have the correct eye and face protection for the workplace hazard present and that it fits them properly.
Protectors must also meet requirements such as comfortability, ability to stay in place, an appropriate field of vision, durability, and compatibility with any other PPE worn.
10. Machine Guarding (1910.212):
Over 1,370 OSHA violations were committed due to inadequate machine guarding. Machine guarding is a physical barrier that protects workers from being injured by moving parts of a machine.
The OSHA requirements state that all machinery should have guards to protect workers from injuries. Machine guarding is a crucial safety measure, as it can help prevent amputations, burns, and other serious injuries, but the guards should not cause hazards.
Some acceptable guards include barriers, two-hand tripping controls, electronic safety devices, and sensor mats. These should be used with other safety measures to provide better protection for workers.
With so many violations, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of safety in the workplace. Employers must be diligent in their efforts to protect their employees, and workers need to be more aware of the dangers in their work environment.
Accidents can happen even in the safest of workplaces. But by following OSHA regulations and taking simple precautions, we can help make the workplace safer.
We hope this list has helped to raise awareness of some of the most common OSHA violations. At NSC, safety is our top priority, and we’re dedicated to helping employers create a safe workplace for their employees.
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