The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was established in 1970 "to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance." For OSHA to succeed in this mission, companies must be in compliance with its safety standards.
Failing to be in compliance and violating these standards can be very costly to the lives of your employees and the livelihood of your business. This past August, the cost for workplace safety violations increased by 78%, which marks the first time the rate has increased since 1990. The current maximum penalty of $7,000 for serious, other-than-serious and posting requirements increased to $12,471 per violation and repeated violations increased from $70,000 to $124,709 per violation.
It is now more important than ever to ensure that your company and your employees are compliant with OSHA standards. One of the first steps of this process is to make sure that your company and employees are aware of these standards and understand the necessary steps you need to take to avoid them.
To help enhance your safety awareness, we have outlined the Top 10 OSHA violations from 2016 and provided ways for you to ensure compliance and avoid costly fines:
1) Fall Protection - Total Violations: 6,906
For the past five years fall protection has reigned as the most common violation on this list. In 2014 there were 793 fatal and 261,920 non-fatal injuries resulting from an employee falling on the same level or to a lower level surface. Despite being a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries proper fall protection is not always equipped at sites. Employers must protect their workers and take the following steps to ensure their safety:
- Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor and runway, as well as around dangerous machines and equipment.
- Include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rail
- Select and provide required personal protective equipment to workers and train workers about job hazards in a language they can understand.
2) Hazard Communication - Total Violations: 5,665
Chemicals pose not only health hazards, like irritation, sensitization and carcinogenicity, but also physical hazards, such as flammability, corrosion and reactivity. All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, train them to handle chemicals responsibly and provide the necessary protective equipment to ensure their safety.
3) Scaffolding - Total Violations: 3,900
Scaffolds are often misused with more than 4,500 workers injured every year. These accidents can be caused by misuse (using a scaffold as a ladder) or often it can be due to improper training and deficient or damaged platforms. OSHA has set forth a list of guidelines to help avoid these tragedies which can be found here. It is important to follow OSHA's advice by providing proper fall protection equipment and ensure your employees are properly trained by offering Fall Hazard Awareness programs.
4) Respiratory Protection - Total Violations: 3,573
Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dust, fog, smoke, mist, gas, vapors and sprays. If someone is exposed to these hazards, it can cause cancer, lung impairment, diseases or death. The fit of the respirator around the nose, mouth, or face is crucial to guarding the worker against these hazardous atmospheres. Often respirators may not fit correctly, do not provide the proper protection or employees may not be trained on how to wear the respirators correctly.
5) Lockout/Tagout - Total Violations: 3,406
Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) refers to specific procedures to prevent injuries due to unexpected start up of machinery or release of hazardous energy during maintenance activities. Compliance with the LOTO standard (29 CFR 1910.147: control of hazardous energy) prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Make sure your practices conform to the site lockout procedure to safeguard against injuries such as amputations and death. Encourage your employees to always ask for direction if they are uncertain.
6) Powered Industrial Trucks - Total Violations: 2,855
Tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur each year in workplaces across the U.S. Most PIT incidents involve property damage as well. Unfortunately, most injuries and damages are due to lack of safe operating procedures, deficient safety-rule enforcement and inadequate training. To prevent both injury and liability, make sure your workplace does not fall into one of these three categories.
7) Ladders - Total Violations: 2,625
Ladder accidents happen when workers select the wrong ladder for the job, don't inspect it for missing or broken pieces or get careless about how they use it. Improper use of scaffolding or other materials as ladder replacements is a common cause of accidents as well. It is important for employees to make sure ladders are in good condition before use, use the correct ladder for the job, never use a metal ladder near electrical wires and never use ladders in place of platforms, skids or braces.
8) Machine Guarding - Total Violations: 2,448
Moving machine parts create workplace hazards. Machine-related injuries are particularly horrifying, making machine guarding an absolute must. Machine guarding protects employees from nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks with barrier guards, light curtains and two-hand operating devices. To avoid these injuries you should never bypass a moving equipment guard and always report damaged or missing guards. Make sure all workers take injury preventative actions until a damaged guard is repaired or missing guard put back into place.
9) Electrical - Wiring Methods - Total Violations: 1,937
Wires must be kept away from hazardous areas that could cause harm, so you must secure all wires to keep them safe with the ground of electrical equipment, wiring and insulation. Before a flexible (extension) cord set is used, instruct all workers to inspect for two things: external defects - like loose parts, missing pins or damage to insulation - and evidence of internal damage - such as a pinched or crushed outer jacket. Replace cords that power "fixed" equipment with appropriate permanent wiring and run extension cords overhead or tape them down to prevent tripping.
10) Electrical - General Requirements - Total Violations: 1,704
General electrical violations stem from failure to install and use equipment according to factory instructions, properly guard electrical equipment, identify disconnecting means and circuits and keep work spaces clear. All safety requirements must be met and hazardous areas marked.
It is extremely difficult to keep track of all the safety standards and precautions you need to take. By partnering with Arbill and scheduling a workplace safety site audit today we can help you identify potential deficiencies and design a customized program to help you avoid accidents, keep your employees safe and ensure OSHA compliance.
Have a Safe Day!