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Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2013

To no surprise, fall protection violations were the number one Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) cited workplace safety violation in 2013. The recent release of the top 10 workplace safety violations was not big news as far as the actual violations are concerned, seeing how they are very similar year-to year. Other than the usual jockeying of positions the list was pretty similar to years past. What caught my eye, was the overall increase in citations. In 2013, there was a 45% increase in citations compared to 2012, in what was essentially the same list.

In 2012, the top ten cited workplace violations totaled 29,179 total violations. Compared to 2013, where the top ten totaled 42,502 total violations. When you consider the increased availability of training, literature, PPE and educational material, it’s truly a head shaker as to how this could happen. Despite the added materials, employees and employers continue to neglect recommendations and/or policies that are there for no other reason than to protect themselves from harm.

Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2013

1. Fall Protection (8,241 violations)

The reigning leader in a category you don’t want to lead, includes failure to use guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems in residential construction; failure to protect open sides and edges; failure to prevent falls from roofs; and failure to cover holes.

2. Hazard Communication (6,156 violations)

OSHA has recently revised its communication standards to align with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS), which may propel this category into the top spot, if organizations are not up to speed with the new regulations. The first deadline passed in December and we shall soon see how smooth of a transition it will be. As far as last year’s most commonly cited hazard communication violations, they included failure to have a written program, inadequate employee education and training, improper or no labels on containers, and lack of, or access to, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and/or safety data sheets (SDSs)

3. Scaffolding (5,423 violations)

This category saw the biggest increase in total violations with 1,609 more violations than the previous year’s total. The top categories from the scaffolding group included not providing safe access to scaffolding surfaces, lack of fall and/or falling object protection, and lack of guardrails.

4. Respiratory Protection (3,879 violations)

Respiratory protection violations also saw a significant increase in violations. Most of the violations in this category included lack of written respiratory program, improper respiratory selection for hazards present, improper respirator storage and fit, and lack of medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators.

5. Electrical, Wiring Methods (3,452 violations)

Up from the eighth spot last year, electrical and wiring violations moved up three spots to number five. The most common violations include problems with flexible cords and cables, boxes and temporary wiring; poor use of extension cords; and using temporary wiring as permanent wiring.

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6. Powered Industrial Trucks (3,340 violations)

Inadequate operator training and poor condition of powered industrial trucks when returned to service after repair were two of the most cited violations in the powered industrial trucks category. Again, this category saw a significant increase in cited violations, bumping up one spot with an increase of 1,347 cited violations.

7. Ladders (3,311 violations)

It should be noted that the ladder category is separate from the scaffolding and fall protection categories. The ladder category is mostly compiled of citations that included damaged side rails, use of the top ladder step, using and inappropriate ladder for the job, and excessive ladder loads. Almost one-third of all fall-related deaths in the construction industry are due to improper use of a ladder.

8. Lockout/Tagout (3,254 violations)

The top cited violations in this category included poor or no energy control procedures, inadequate worker training and incomplete inspections. The lockout/tagout category more than doubled in total violations this year, up from 1,572 last year.

9. Electrical, General Requirements (2,745 violations)

Moving up one spot from 2012, electrical and general requirement violations included exposure to electric shock and electrocution as two of the most commonly cited hazards in this category.

10. Machine Guarding (2,701 violations)

Unfortunately moving down, still meant moving up for this category. Even though the machine guarding category fell from sixth to tenth this year, it still saw an increase in total citations by 604. The top violations in this category where point of operation exposures, inadequate or no anchoring of fixed machinery, and exposure to blades.

Stay off the List

Staying off the list and out of OSHA’s books is no easy task. However, a culture that understands and is aware of the risks associated with these violations is a major step in the right direction. When you educate your staff and show them how important safety is, the rest will fall in place.

Part of educating your team, is teaching them the importance of keeping adequate documentation of your workplace and how reporting hazards, along with near misses, is one of the best ways to stay on top of your organization’s focus of staying violation free.

Turning this documentation into action is the next step. Once you have identified hazards and near miss accidents, you need to take the steps necessary to eliminate those threats. Keep a zero tolerance policy regarding hazardous situations and individuals in your workplace.

Zero Tolerance = Zero Violations