The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has released the annual list of their top 10 most cited violations. The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards in fiscal year 2011 (Oct 1, 2010 through Sept 30, 2011):
Falls from ladders and roofs still account for the majority of injuries at heights. Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards. This includes – but is not limited to – guardrail systems, safety net systems and personal fall protection systems as well as the use of safe work practices and training.
An estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65 percent of the construction industry, work on scaffolds frequently. Protecting these workers from scaffold-related accidents would prevent 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths every year, at a savings for American employers of $90 million in workdays not lost.*
OSHA has an eTool available on their website for Safety Standards for Scaffolds Used in the Construction Industry: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/scaffolding/index.html
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) revealed that the vast majority of scaffold accidents can be attributed to either the planking or support giving way or to the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object. A heavily cited violation year after year, the dangers associated with scaffold use can be controlled if employers strictly enforce OSHA standards.
Identifying fall hazards and deciding how best to protect workers is the first step in reducing or eliminating fall hazards. Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma. Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction. However, regardless of the fall distance, fall protection must be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.*
For more info check out OSHA's website on Fall Protection: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html
In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information must be available about the identities and hazards of the chemicals. OSHA standard 1910.1200 governs hazard communication to workers about chemicals that are both produced or imported into the workplace. Failure to develop and maintain a written program, failure to develop and maintain proper training programs and failure to have a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each hazardous chemical top the citation list.
OSHA has estimated that more than 32 million workers are exposed to 650,000 hazardous chemical products in more than 3 million American workplaces. This poses a serious problem for exposed employers and their employees. The basic goal of an effective Hazard Communication Program is to ensure employers and employees know the identities and hazards of chemicals in their workplaces. When employers and employees have such information, it can be used to design and implement appropriate protective measures to reduce the incidence of adverse effects.*
For more info check out OSHA's Safety and Health Topic on Hazard Communication: http://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index2.html
From program administration to worksite-specific procedures to respirator use, standard 1910.134 provides employers guidance in establishing and maintaining a respiratory inspection program. Respirators protect workers against oxygen-deficient environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment and other diseases or death.
An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces throughout the United States. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors, and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases, or death. Compliance with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually.*
Visit OSHA's website for more info: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/respiratoryprotection/index.html
Lockout/tagout (LOTO) refers to specific practices and procedures that safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment or the release of hazardous energy during service and maintenance activities. Workers who service mechanical and electrical equipment face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.
In a study conducted by the United Auto Workers (UAW), 20% of the fatalities (83 of 414) that occurred among their members between 1973 and 1995 were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control procedures specifically, lockout/tagout procedures.*
Here is an Interactive Training Program on Lockout-Tagout procedures: http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/lototraining/index.html
Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. OSHA's electrical standards are designed to protect employees exposed to dangers such as electric shock, electrocution, fires and explosions. Electrical wiring hazards that top the electrical citation's list include the failure to install and use electrical equipment according to manufacturer's instructions, failure to guard electrical equipment, failure to identify disconnecting means or circuits and not keeping work spaces clear.
For more info visit OSHA's website on Electrical Standards at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/electrical/index.html
Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks, particularly forklifts, occur. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are driven off loading docks or fall between docks and unsecured trailers. Other common injuries involve employees being struck by lift trucks or falling from elevated pallets and tines. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls and machinery.
It is a violation of Federal law for anyone UNDER 18 years of age to operate a forklift or for anyone OVER 18 years of age who is not properly trained and certified to do so.*
For more info on OSHA Compliance, standards, and specific industries: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/poweredindustrialtrucks/index.html
These types of injuries typically occur when ladders are used for purposes other than those designated by the manufacturer – when the top step of a stepladder is used as a step, when ladders are not used on stable and level surfaces or when defective ladders are not withdrawn from service. Most employee injuries can be attributed to insufficient or inadequate training and a disregard for safe operating procedures.
For A Guide to OSHA Rules on Stairways and Ladders: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/ladders/osha3124.html
Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to the danger of electrocution. Common citations include failure to effectively close and protect from abrasion, conductors entering boxes, cabinets or fittings; failure to provide all pull boxes, junction boxes and fittings with covers approved for the purpose; failure to connect flexible cords to devices and fittings so strain and relief is provided to prevent pull from being directly transmitted to joints or terminal screws; and using flexible cords and cables as a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure.*
This eTool provided by OSHA describes common hazards that electrical contractors may encounter and possible solutions: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/electricalcontractors/index.html
When left exposed, moving machine parts have the potential to cause serious workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputation, burns or blindness. Employers need to take the time to institute the proper safeguards to protect workers. By installing and maintaining the proper machine guarding, the risk of employee injury is substantially reduced.*
From OSHA's Small Business Safety and Health Management Series, here is an informative publication: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3170/3170-02R-2007-English.html
* Source: http://www.osha.gov