How to Prevent the Top 10 OSHA Violations
OSHA regularly publishes a list of its most frequently cited violations. In this post, we’ll provide tips and best practices to help you keep workers safe and avoid OSHA violations.
Understanding OSHA Violations
Safety is the first priority for any company that seeks to protect employees and customers. Knowing the hazards that exist in workplace offices, equipment, and machinery is the first step toward preventing injury or even death.
The Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) publishes a list of its most frequently cited violations in the workplace. By examining this list, employers can analyze the dangers inherent in their workplaces and plan to avoid them. Each of these hazards may not apply to every business, so take an all-hazards approach to plan for the primary risks facing your company.
Don’t Be Complacent About Office Safety
Some business owners may think that safety can be a distant focus because their office has two steps to the parking lot, tons of carpet, and no equipment more complex than a Keurig. Isn’t OSHA concerned with factories and industrial sites filled with heavy machinery and equipment where the focus is on manual labor?
Not so fast! It turns out that offices have plenty of hidden dangers, no matter how climate-controlled and cushy. So, regardless of which office location you find yourself in, safety should always take precedence.
Top 10 OSHA Cited Workplace Violations
OSHA violation #1: Fall protection
Falls are one of the leading causes of serious injury and deaths at work. So it’s no surprise to see that plenty of workplaces don’t quite nail this one.
OSHA guidelines are very specific, instructing employers to set up the workplace to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations, or into holes in the floor and walls.
Are your workers often alone in places where falls could happen? If so, consider AlertMedia’s lone worker solution,an award-winning hands-free safety solution that works by combining a mobile app with AlertMedia’s 24/7 monitoring center. The user simply begins a timed session on the app whenever they are going out into the field. Then, if they press the app’s panic button or allow the timed session to expire, the AlertMedia Monitoring Center will immediately dispatch law enforcement to the user’s precise location.
OSHA violation #2. Hazard communication
An informed employee is a safe employee. OSHA’s guidelines state that companies must inform their employees about the identities and hazards of chemicals in the workplace. In addition, OSHA’s rules state:
- Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.
- All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.
Chemical safety is no joke. Are you able to communicate about hazards easily and quickly? Consider a modern mass notification system to keep workers safe, informed, and connected.
OSHA violation #3. Scaffolding
OSHA found 3,228 violations for scaffolding for Fiscal Year 2019. The government agency estimates that 2.3 million construction workers (65 percent of the construction industry) labor on scaffolds during a typical day. OSHA’s complex standards for scaffolds may prevent 4,500 injuries and more than 60 deaths per year.
Workers concerned about their safety can access free tools on OSHA’s website. Soberingly, one in five workplace fatalities is a construction worker. But with a proper safety and health plan, construction can be a safe occupation.
OSHA Violation #4. Lockout/Tagout
Maintaining heavy equipment and machinery is necessary for businesses but carries with it a risk. If they are not properly shut off, dangerous machines could start up again during repair or maintenance.
Violations of lockout/tagout increased from 2018 to 2019, moving it above Respirator Protection to number 4 on the OSHA most cited violation list.
The lockout-tagout (LOTO) or lock and tag is a safety procedure which is used in industry and research settings. With LOTO, hazardous energy sources are “isolated and rendered inoperative” before a worker starts to operate the equipment in question. The isolated power sources are then locked and a tag is placed on the lock identifying the worker who placed it. The worker then holds the key for the lock ensuring that only he or she can remove the lock and start the machine.
OSHA violation #5. Respiratory protection
Do your workers labor in hazardous conditions? Respirators are among the most vital pieces of protective equipment for these employees. OSHA guidelines call for workers to use a respirator, or a device that protects workers from inhaling dangerous substances, such as chemicals and infectious particles. Selecting the right respirator “requires an assessment of all the workplace operations, processes, or environments that may create a respiratory hazard.”
Ranked as the #4 OSHA violation for 2018, Respiratory Protection violations fell by approximately 10% from 2018 to 2019. This means Respiratory Protection is now the 5th most cited OSHA violation.
OSHA violation #6. Ladders
Everyone knows how to climb a ladder safely, right? Ladders are so common that many people take them for granted. Nevertheless, OSHA inspectors cited nearly 3,000 violations for ladders in FY 2019. With various ladders in the workplace (job made, self-supporting portable ladder, not self-supporting portable ladder, etc.), businesses need to know the standards to keep employees safe when they climb.
OSHA violation #7. Powered industrial trucks
Business owners, you know you have a “powered industrial truck” if you operate or use a forklift or lift truck to move materials. Not surprisingly, OSHA has a long list of standards for these ubiquitous—and potentially dangerous—vehicles.
OSHA’s standards have safety requirements that relate to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines.
OSHA violation #8. Fall protection – training requirements
We’ve already seen that fall protection is a big area for employers as they seek to protect their workforce. But did you know that fall protection training is an area that trips up employers?
OSHA guidelines state: “The employer shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program shall enable each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and shall train each employee in the procedures to be followed in order to minimize these hazards.”
For a full list of the procedures, hop over to OSHA’s website. Do you need to communicate with employees about necessary training, but find it hard to contact employees in the field? An employee notification system might be the answer for your organization, with two-way messaging and multiple channels such as voice, text, Slack, and email.
OSHA violation #9. Machine guarding
We’re not surprised to see machine guarding make the violations list. The standards for machine guarding are quite complex (check them out here). The purpose of machine guarding is to protect the machine operator and other employees from injuries created by ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. OSHA found almost 2000 machine guarding violations in 2019.
OSHA violation #10. Eye and face protection
Eye and face protection OSHA violations rose by 10% from 2018 to 2019, to 1630 total violations. OSHA reports that eye injuries cost businesses more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses, and worker compensation.
Preventing blindness and other eye injuries is the goal of OSHA’s eye and face protection standards for General Industry, Shipyard Employment, Longshoring, and Construction. The standards address personal protection, special subparts for welding, cutting, and brazing (for example), and many other items.
Provide eye and face protection whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological, or mechanical irritants and hazards. If you need help determining potential hazards on the job and choosing specific eye and face protection, this OSHA webpage is a good first stop.
After reading this list, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. It can seem impossible to prevent all the potential dangers to employee safety, especially when listed out one after another. But the fact is, each of these risks is avoidable if one takes the proper precautions. And you have a legal and ethical duty of care to take those necessary precautions.
OSHA standards are nothing if not comprehensive, and as an employer, you have a duty to follow them. Employees trust that their employers are doing everything they can to keep them safe. By following OSHA guidelines to the letter, you can do that, fulfilling your duty of care.
AlertMedia’s emergency communication system will help you communicate with employees about training and any emergencies that arise. To tackle worker safety for employees who labor on the job alone most of the time, AlertMedia’s lone worker solution was specifically designed to keep your workers safe in life-threatening or dangerous situations.