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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

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

Death Determines the Cost of Safety

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 25, 2010 1:10:29 AM

Carrie Bettinger - CSP, CHMM

It’s a windy, rainy day in northern New Jersey today and, as I drive through my town, I see the sanitation trucks are out to collect garbage and paper recyclables as early as they can before everything is soaked.  My town roads are basically paved horse trails so imagine narrow, winding roads with lots of sharp curves with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH.  So why is one of the garbage trucks going about 35MPH on one of these roads with a soaking wet worker standing on the truck’s rear platform clinging with a death grip to the side?  Is it that important to get the garbage in as fast as possible?  Why is the worker not in the truck if they are not making stops?  Does one of these workers have to die before this sanitation company takes steps to stop these stupid and unsafe acts?

As an experienced Safety Professional, I’m trained to recognize compliance-driven and non-compliance "best practice" occupational safety violations.  However, what does it take to change laws and habits that affect workers and citizens?  In our society and legal system it seems that, yes, someone (or many) has to tragically die before change and regulation are considered.

Let’s review some of our history:

1911:  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York resulted in 146 worker deaths due to locked escape routes leading to local then nationwide Life Safety Laws.

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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, Chemical Safety Board, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Safety, Occupational Training, Lab Safety, Safety Training in Spanish, water safety

OSHA at 40: Taking on a Mid-life Crisis?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 11, 2010 1:00:07 AM

Bruce Groves - CIH

In July, David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, published a memo to his staff at OSHA highlighting several new approaches that OSHA is using (or planning to use) in its effort to protect workers.  Dr. Michaels is building on the progress of his predecessors and reinforcing some of the weak links in the system created both by Congress and former administrations. In his recent letter, Dr. Michaels reviews some legacy issues that limit OSHA-influence in creating safer workplaces such as

  • OSHA has only 2,000 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers at 7 million worksites

  • OSHA fines are too small to have an adequate deterrent effect

  • OSHA standards provide limited protection to whistleblowers from retaliation

  • OSHA occupational exposure standards have been established for only a small percentage of chemicals used in US workplaces (most of those are based on out-of-date science) with a slow and resource-intensive standard-setting process

Dr. Michaels states that OSHA needs to transform how it addresses workplace hazards, and in its relationship to employers and workers. As such he outlines a new strategy that is a clear shift from recent years indicating that there is a “new sheriff in town” and business (ALL businesses) should take heed.  Here are some of my extrapolations and thoughts regarding 6 of these transformational items -- consider how they will affect your business or workplace.
1.       Stronger Enforcement:  Some Employers Need Incentives to Do the Right Thing

OSHA will have more and bigger sticks.  OSHA is redirecting resources to conduct inspections of high risk industries and tasks including ergonomics.

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Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, indoor air quality, health and safety, General Industry H&S, General EHS, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, emergency response training, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish, water safety, small business

Safety & Health Training – A Victim of Its Own Success?

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jun 14, 2010 1:11:20 AM

Capt. John DeFillippo, CHMP, EMT-B

These are tough economic times and businesses are looking to cut costs and save money. A disturbing trend I have noticed is the willingness of many companies to make cuts in safety programs and employee training in a misguided attempt to improve the bottom line.

Trained workers are safer workers.  The facts bear this out. Shortsighted statements I’ve heard include; “We don’t have problems in that area, so we’re cutting back on training.”, when the training was most likely the reason for the lack of problems.

Often, it is difficult to see how beneficial training can be until you experience the effects of its absence. Negative indications show themselves in higher EMRs, increased workman’s compensation claims, lost production time, and property damage. Only companies actively tracking and trending incidents are likely to realize this. (By the way, such companies would also be the ones least likely to make such cuts in the first place!)

It takes just one serious incident resulting in injuries to quickly eliminate any savings associated with cutting programs and training.  What’s more, most health and safety training is required by regulations, so there is also the risk of fines for non-compliance. These can be hefty and since most companies don’t budget for them, they become an extraordinary cost – right off the bottom line!

At Emilcott, we have seen firsthand the effects that result from a lack of training.  Recently, we were hired by a client who laid-off their safety director a couple years prior.  After starting our work, we informed the client of numerous safety violations throughout their organization. These appeared to be a direct result of the lapse in proper safety training – since they no longer had a safety director to oversee their program.  Through the Emilcott Training Institute, our client was able to receive the training needed to avoid these safety violations – and keep their employees safe and on the job. However, in their attempt to save money, the client ended up spending more in a short period of time just to catch up.

Making drastic H&S budget cuts just never pay off.  As experienced health and safety consultants, we work with our clients to offer solutions when budgets get tight:

  • Outsource until you can hire again – we have provided EHS professionals at our clients’ sites for just this purpose for both short and long term requirements.

  • Prioritize your H&S needs – consider the total reduction in your workforce or operations to determine where you can pull back and where you cannot.

  • Take advantage of training courses open to the public – it may no longer be economically sound to run a training course in-house, but don’t lapse on required courses.

  • Take advantage of FREE resources – many consultants provide lots of free info and OSHA will provide all types of assistance at no cost. As an example, Emicott offers a comprehensive Free Training Needs Assessment at!

  • Pool resources – look toward your industry’s professional organizations or neighboring companies to share services. Maybe a part-time Safety Director is better than none at all.

  • Ask a professional – put together a plan and a program to get you through the lean times

Has your company adjusted their health and safety program for leaner times?

Have you seen a direct effect and how are you compensating?
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Topics: OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Fire Safety, Occupational Training, Lab Safety, Safety Training in Spanish

The Regulators Awake: Proposed Changes to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Oct 13, 2009 6:50:04 AM

Paula Kaufmann, CIH
Both OSHA and the EPA seemed to have recently awoken from their regulatory slumber. OSHA has announced its first major rulemaking during the Obama administration with a proposed change to the agency’s Hazard Communication (HazCom) Standard.  The existing OSHA HazCom Standard provides workers with the right to know the hazards and identities of the chemicals they are exposed to while working, as well as the measures they can take to protect themselves.  This standard was originally adopted in November 1983 and has been enhanced a few times with the latest revision in February 1994.

The proposed changes set the stage for the United States to catch up with the global community in the use of globally consistent methods for chemical hazard classification, hazard labeling, and the format of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).  The proposed changes will align the HazCom Standard with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (GHS).  The GHS was adopted by the UN in 2003 with a goal of implementation in 2008.   Most multinational companies have been following both the global system and the current OSHA Hazard Communication Program in recent years.  The US Department of Transportation has already modified the DOT requirements to make them consistent with international UN transportation requirements and the GHS.  Now it is time for OSHA.

The proposed changes will significantly improve the quality and consistency of information provided to workers, employers and chemical user by having a standardized approach to identifying the hazard, labeling the hazard on containers and equipment, and documentation of the hazard on a MSDS.  The most pronounced change that chemical purchasers and workers will see is a consistent hazard warning statements and warnings (including pictograms) along with MSDSs will always have the same information located in the same place.  These changes are critical not only for everyday users of the chemicals but also emergency responders and medical personnel.

However, the changes won’t be required next week and probably not even next year.  The process for moving through a major revision to an established regulation can be long and loud (with input from all vantages points on the changes).  OSHA took the first step of this process in September 2006 with an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPR).  The recent step, in September 2009, is detailing the changes to HazCom with the publishing of a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM). Next is the comment period (90 days – December 29, 2009) and then public hearings scheduled for early 2010.  OSHA will then draft a Proposed Standard which will have to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget and will consult with the Small Business Administration.  The Proposal Standard will then get published in the Federal Register, and will most likely have a comment period.  FINALLY, OSHA will incorporate changes from comments into the Final Standard, which will be published in the Federal Register with the provisions taking effect over the following months or years.

It’s a long process.  Regulators don’t have the window of time to slumber.
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Topics: Emilcott, OSHA, DOT, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, EPA, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, HazCom, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, MSDS, Hazard Communication Standard, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish

Swine Flu Update

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Sep 17, 2009 1:52:33 AM

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Topics: H&S Training, Occupational Health, Webinar, emergency response training, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish, Swine Flu

Watch Your Back! 5 Bending/Lifting Techniques

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 27, 2009 8:10:22 AM

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Topics: health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Occupational Health, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish

Top 10 Things to Know BEFORE Shipping Hazardous Materials

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Aug 4, 2009 8:34:54 AM

Dian Cucchisi, PhD, CHMM

1. Is the material hazardous? This can be determined by looking at the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or the label.

2. Does the Department of Transportation consider the material a hazardous material for transportation? Check the Hazardous Material Table (HMT) found in 49 CFR 172.101.

3. Is the material listed by name in the HMT? If so, that would be the proper shipping name.

4. Is the material not listed by name in the HMT but is a hazardous material due to flammability, corrosivity, etc.? If so, a generic proper shipping name would be used. The generic proper shipping names are also located in the HMT.

5. Do you have personnel trained according to 49 CFR 172.704?

6. Do you have the proper label(s) as required by 49 CFR 172.400 - .450?

7. Is the packaging approved for the shipment of hazardous materials according to 49 CFR 173?

8. Have you completed the Shipper's Declaration of Dangerous Goods?

9. Is the listed emergency response telephone number answered by a "live person?"

10. Failure to ship hazardous materials properly has resulted in monetary fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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Topics: OSHA, DOT, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Materials, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, emergency response training, MSDS, Respiratory, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish

Top 10 Things to Know About Respiratory Protection & Fit Testing

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 28, 2009 9:18:19 AM

Kevin Zeller

1. OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.134 details the requirements for a Respiratory Protection Program.

2. A Respiratory Protection Program is mandatory if any employee is required to wear any type of respirator during the course of their job.

3. The establishment and maintenance of a Respiratory Protection Program is the responsibility of the employer and must of: a written program, employee training, fit testing’ and medical surveillance.

4. All employees who will be issued respiratory protection must be medically cleared to wear a respirator before fit testing and donning a respirator

5. Only respirators which have been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should be used

6. Fit testing for respirators is done to determine the correct size respirator for the employee.

7. Fit testing is required for all positive and negative pressure tight fitting facepieces.

8. Fit testing can be accomplished by using either a qualitative agent (eg Bitrex) or quantitatively (eg., PORTACOUNT®) with a probed face piece.

9. Fit testing must be conducted: prior to initial issuance of a respirator; when a different facepiece is used; when an employee’s physical changes may affect facepiece fit; and annually thereafter.

10. Employees must conduct a user seal check each time they wear a respirator to assure they have donned and adjusted the facepiece correctly.
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Topics: NIOSH, OSHA, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, Emergency Response, H&S Training, Hazardous Waste Management, Compliance, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Lab Safety & Electrical, emergency response training, Fire Safety, Respiratory, Occupational Training, Safety Training in Spanish, EMT, Fit Testing

Top 10: Water Safety at Work and Play

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 21, 2009 10:31:34 AM

Capt. John DeFillippo, CHMP, EMT-B

The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. It’s never too late and kids should learn to treat the water with respect at an early age. As a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, an EMT and a licensed captain working in marine salvage, I’ve seen my share of tragedies on the water. Sadly, nearly all were avoidable. Here are some tips to help you stay safe in and on the water this summer when on and off the clock.

At Play

1. Swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present and never swim alone.

2. Enter the water feet first. Enter the water headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving .

3. Adults should never leave a child unobserved around water. Practice "reach supervision" by staying within an arm's length when around the water.

4. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. You can't swim against a rip, don’t’ try.

5. Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.

6. If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.

7. Take a Safe Boating Course. Many states now require this for operation of vessels, including personal water craft or jet-skies. Check your local laws.

8. Learn CPR and Basic First Aid. Knowing what to do in an emergency can save a life.

9. Leave water rescue to those who are trained. Too many would-be rescuers become victims themselves.

At Work

10. Do you or your employees work on, near or over water? Did you know that there are specific OSHA regulations covering the safety of such workers including required training and protective equipment? If you have any questions or you’re not sure, reply to this post or visit our Twitter page - @Emilcott and send a DM.
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Topics: General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Compliance, worker safety, Occupational Health, Occupational Safety, Safety Training in Spanish, water safety, EMT

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