The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is an organization within the US Department of Labor that is responsible for establishing and enforcing workplace safety laws and regulations. The mission of OSHA is to maintain safe working conditions for men and women in all industries throughout America.
Among other tasks, OSHA inspects workplaces throughout the country and enforces regulations to ensure that workplace safety standards are being maintained. Each year OSHA publishes a list of the most frequently cited safety standards violations so that employees can be aware of these issues and take action to prevent dangerous accidents. We will take a look at the Top 7 most frequently violated OSHA safety standards for Fiscal Year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30th, 2014).
1.) Fall Protection (Construction Industry)
Falls from ladders and scaffolding are the leading causes of fatal construction accidents in the country. In a previous post, we highlighted many of the causes of ladder and scaffolding falls, one of which was improper fall protection. In fact, many fall accidents are the result of either inadequate fall protection or a lack of fall protection all together. This is the fourth year in a row that Fall Protection ranked at the top of the list for most violated safety standard.
2.) Hazard Communication Standards
Hazardous substances such as toxic chemicals are often present in industrial work environments which can cause dangerous accidents leading to chemical injuries or explosion accidents. As a result, the Hazard Communication Standard was put into place to protect workers from the potential dangers associated with these substances. Essentially, it requires all employers to provide information and disclosure of any toxic or hazardous substances to their employees.
3.) Scaffolding (Construction Industry)
Many of the workplace fall accidents that occur within the construction industry are caused by scaffolding deficiencies. The OSHA safety standards for scaffolding dictate different requirements for certain types of scaffolding including the structure, support and fall protection for each. For a great resource from OSHA on safe scaffold use in the construction industry click here.
4.) Respiratory Protection
Respiratory protection was the third most violated OSHA safety regulation. According to OSHA, approximately 5 million workers are required to wear respirators for work throughout the country. Respirators help protect workers from hazardous conditions or working environments such as insufficient oxygen, smoke, dust, vapors, and other potentially dangerous conditions that are often present in industrial workplaces. When ingested, these hazards can cause serious damage including cancer, intoxication, lung damage or even death.
5.) Powered Industrial Trucks
Powered Industrial Trucks (PITs) can include forklifts, tractors, platform lift trucks and other vehicles or equipment used to move large items in the workplace. While these vehicles can be very useful, they also pose hazards to workers. For example, many workers suffer serious injuries after being “struck by” or run over by a powered industrial vehicle. As a result, OSHA’s powered industrial truck standards are meant to protect workers from the potential dangers associated with these vehicles by providing safety requirements for the design, maintenance and use of these vehicles.
6.) Lockout / Tagout
Lockout / Tagout safety regulations are meant to protect workers who are servicing or maintenance of machines or equipment with hazardous energy sources. More specifically, stored energy sources such as mechanical, electrical, thermal, hydraulic, pneumatic or chemical sources can are all potentially dangerous if not properly controlled. A sudden or unanticipated release of these stored energies, such as a pressure valve release, can cause serious injuries to nearby workers. Adhering to lockout / tagout standards could prevent 1 in every 10 worker injuries in many industries.
7.) Ladders (Construction Industry)
As mentioned before, ladder and scaffolding falls are among the leading causes of fatal construction accidents. The ladder safety standards are in place to prevent worker injuries due to the improper use of ladders. Unfortunately, this safety standards consistently ranks near the top for OSHA safety standard violations.