According to the United States’ Occupational Health Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), fall protection is the most frequently cited safety violation in the workplace for 2016.
At the 2016 National Safety Council & Expo held in Anaheim, CA in mid-October, Patrick Kapust, the deputy director of OSHA’s directorate of enforcement programs, discussed the top 10 list of workplace safety violations for 2016.
1. Fall protection (6,929 violations)
Employers can help reduce falls in the workplace by assessing for fall hazards, and working to resolve and prevent any hazards in the future. For example, providing the proper personal protection equipment (PPE), such as appropriate scaffolding and ladders, and ensuring that employees know how to use it properly can greatly reduce falls. Depending on the specific job, personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) may be necessary. All equipment should be regularly inspected to ensure it is working properly.
2. Hazard communication (5,677 violations)
To decrease the opportunity for hazardous communication violations, all chemicals, including liquids, gases, vapors, fumes, mists, and solids, should be properly covered, stored, and labeled in an appropriate container. All work sites should have a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on file for any chemicals being used. In addition, all employees should receive training on any hazardous chemicals prior to working with them. This includes how to prevent exposure and the occurrence of adverse health effects in the event of accidental exposure.
3. Scaffolds (3,906 violations)
In many workplaces, scaffolding is commonly used. Currently, OSHA has only approved the use of Suspended Scaffolds and Supported Scaffolds. To prevent safety violations, employers should ensure scaffolding meets OSHA’s key provisions, including the use of guardrails, midrails, footings, platforms, guying ties, and braces. In addition, they should pay careful attention to the maximum capacity to make certain it is not exceeded. Routine inspections should be performed and all employees should receive training before being allowed on the scaffold.
4. Respiratory protection (3,585 violations)
Employers are required to provide all employees with respirators, if they are working in an area that could contain harmful contaminants. Each employee should be FIT tested by a medical professional, as a way of ensuring that they are healthy enough to use a respirator and are using the correct size. Additionally, they should receive training on how to use and clean the equipment.
5. Lockout/ tagout (3,414 violations)
To prevent lockout/ tagout (LOTO) violations, all employers should ensure that an effective LOTO program has been implemented. This includes providing training for all employees, creating a policy that only allows the employee who applied the LOTO device to remove it, using only authorized devices on equipment, and verifying that all new equipment can be locked out, as tagged out equipment is being phased out.
6. Powered industrial trucks (2,860 violations)
To prevent powered industrial truck (forklifts or lift trucks) violations, employers should make certain all drivers have received the proper training and demonstrated a mastery of the skills needed to operate the machine. In addition, a thorough pre-shift inspection should be performed on all powered industrial trucks daily.
7. Ladders (2,639 violations)
Preventing ladder safety violations is largely related to the making certain the ladder is in good condition and positioned properly when in use. Employee training is also crucial and should include the importance of using both hands to climb the ladder (with hands free of tools) and not sending bulky or heavy objects up until the climber is at the top. Signs alerting other workers to the potential of falling objects should also be set up nearby.
8. Machine guarding (2,451 violations)
To prevent violations related to machine guarding, employers should make certain at least two people perform a formal risk assessment on the machine, as well as ensure routine and appropriate maintenance is performed. Again, employee education on proper usage is necessary.
9. Electrical wiring (1,940 violations)
Electrical wiring violations can be prevented by ensuring all wiring, including conductors, cords, cables, insulators, enclosures, and switches, are properly maintained and free of any fraying or kinks. Additionally, it is important to ensure the area surrounding the wiring is free of any wet spots and that all metal used for grounding has been properly grounded in order to manage potential fault currents.
10. Electrical, general requirements (1,704)
Routine maintenance, as is regular training sessions for employees, is crucial for preventing violations related to general requirements.
According to Deborah Hersman, National Safety Council president and CEO, “Every year the OSHA top 10 serves as a guide for employers to address the biggest safety risks facing their employees.”