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OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations – What does it mean?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Dec 5, 2010 9:53:02 PM

Sarah Stibbe Damaskos

OSHA Top 10 Violations 2010

Did you know that, in fiscal year 2010, OSHA issued approximately 94,000 citations?  Using this data, OSHA has recently released its Annual Top 10 list of Most Cited Violations.  OSHA releases this list every year – why? Paula Kaufmann, a CIH at Emilcott, thinks OSHA is telling us where we need to focus!  Use it as a warning or indicator that that OSHA is monitoring these trends and will be targeting companies most likely to have employees working with these hazards. 

At Emilcott, we provide health and safety guidance and support for hundreds of clients that range in size from small, family-owned businesses to Fortune 100 companies with facilities throughout the world. Our EHS consulting work familiarizes us with all types of facilities and a wide range of health and safety issues. One common thread brings these different companies and industries together:  when they embrace a company-wide safety culture they reduce their risks. So, when we look at the categories and the sheer volume of violations (47,000!) that support OSHA’s Top 10, we know that the solution for every violation is universal:   safety training and commitment to creating a safe work environment with management leadership and employee involvement! With a top to bottom buy-in on the importance and value of safety, occupational hazards are observed, analyzed and prevented.  We have seen injury (and insurance) rates drop for our clients that have genuinely adopted this approach.  Some clients have even won highly competitive projects with their safety performance making the winning difference!

Let’s get back to this year's Top 10 categories. From year to years this lists stays virtually the same, but what we strive for, as occupational health and safety professionals, is a reduction in the number of incidents (and violations). 

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.  As we review just the top 5 violations of 2010, consider if your company is providing adequate training and support to create a safe and healthful workplace for you.  Do you work in a culture of safety? What can you do to make your workplace safer for yourself and your coworkers?  Does your company understand the complete cost of ignoring occupational safety practices? 

1)  Scaffolding (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.454)

Training Solution:   At a minimum – Scaffolding awareness, approximately 2-3 hours of training investment. 

Learn More:  “When OSHA revised its scaffolds standard in 1996, BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] studies showed that 25% of workers injured in scaffold accidents had received no scaffold safety training, and 77% of scaffolds were not equipped with guardrails. OSHA estimates that informed employers and workers, in compliance with correct safety standards, can save as many as 50 lives and prevent 4,500 accidents every year. In a recent BLS study, 72 percent of workers injured in scaffold accidents attributed the accident either to the planking or support giving way, or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.”

2)  Fall Protection (OSHA 29 CFR 1926.503 & 1926.1060)

Training Solution:  OSHA requires training for anyone working on elevated surfaces, an approximate 2-4 hour training investment per person  This includes above excavations!  There is a requirement for Competent Person as well (to ensure that everyone is following the requirements and the equipment is appropriate).

Safety Violations Cost:  “The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited, a residential roofing contractor in Belleville, for violations in connection with fall hazards. Proposed penalties total $106,400.”

 3)  Hazard Communication (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.1200 & 1926.59)

Training Solution:  OSHA requires employers to provide employees with effective information and training on hazardous chemicals in their work area.  This means an initial training (1 to 2 hours) and follow-up training when new chemical hazards are brought onsite or when employees have new job tasks involving new chemical hazards.  Maintaining an accurate, up-to-date list of substances and a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each substance  are also required.

Learn More:  Find out more about Hazard Communication here and, as global harmonization moves forward, talk to your health and safety staff about new developments or subscribe to updates from this OSHA site

Safety Violations Story: Young Workers:  Robert

4)  Respiratory Protection (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 & 1926.103)

Training Solution:  All employees who are required to wear respiratory protection, including filtering face pieces, must be properly trained how to use and care for a respirator-- this takes about 1 hour. Medical Clearance and Respirator Fit-test is also required, as is the assignment of a Respiratory Protection Program Administrator who should be properly trained in this task (about 8 hours).

Learn More:  Why Proper Respirator Protection Lets You Breathe Longer (and Breathe Easy)

5)  Ladders (OSHA 29 CFR 1910.26)

Training Solution:  Employees should be trained to properly use ladders and to recognize the hazards from falls while using ladders and stairways. This is generally a 30-minute training investment and can be part of regularly scheduled Tool Box Talks. OSHA also requires Ladder Inspection Program to remove and destroy defective ladders.

Learn More: “OSHA rules apply to all stairways and ladders used in construction, alteration, repair, painting, decorating and demolition of worksites covered by OSHA’s construction safety and health standards” and this quick guide to portable ladder-related falls”.

So, are you concerned that you could be caught, written up and fined by OSHA due to safety violations?  Then, you need the Emilcott Training Needs Assessment Tool!  It’s free and is designed to help you determine which employees need health and safety training to meet regulatory compliance specific to your operation.

Here’s a final interesting  statistic:  According to OSHA, an effective safety and health program forms the basis of good worker protection and can save time and money—about $4 for every dollar spent—and increase productivity and reduce worker injuries, illnesses and related workers’ compensation costs.  Now that’s an investment that makes sense to your workforce and your wallet (and keeps you off OSHA’s top 10)!

Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Safety Training in Spanish

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