OSHA’s 2015 Top 10 Safety Violations

By Roy Maurer Sep 30, 2015
ATLANTA—More employers were charged with fall protection violations in fiscal year 2015, making fall protection once again the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) most frequently cited workplace safety violation.

Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the top 10 cited violations for fiscal year 2015 at the National Safety Council’s 2015 Congress and Expo here.

Kapust introduced the list as “no surprise,” saying the violated standards stay the same year after year, with slight variations in the ordering. Employers should consider the list as a tool to find and fix recognized hazards before OSHA shows up, Kapust said.

The violations are comprised only of federal OSHA enforcement actions and not from the 26 states and two territories that administer their own occupational safety and health programs.

The top 10 violated standards:

1. Fall protection in construction: 6,721 violations

These citations are up 578 from fiscal year 2014. Accordingly, the top four construction standards violated all deal with fall protection. Most citations come from residential construction and roofing work, Kapust said. Frequently violated requirements include not wearing fall protection and not guarding open sides and edges to prevent falls from roofs.

2. Hazard communication: 5,192 violations

This number is about the same from last fiscal year. Employers commonly failed to have a written program, to provide adequate employee education and training, to properly label (or have any label on) containers, and to provide workers with access to safety data sheets. OSHA’s revised hazard communication standard went into effect for all employers June 1, 2015. The revised rule requires employers to provide hazardous chemical information to their employees using new safety data sheets and labels that are aligned with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

3. Scaffolding in construction: 4,295 violations

Scaffolding violations increased by 266 since 2014. Violations include problems with scaffold construction, improper worker access to scaffolding surfaces and lack of guardrails.

4. Respiratory protection: 3,305 violations

Respiratory protection violations increased by 82 since 2014. Frequent violations include not having a written respiratory-protection program, having poor fit-test procedures and not conducting required medical evaluations for workers using respirators.

5. Lockout/Tagout: 3,002 violations

Lockout/tagout violations increased by nearly 300 since last year. Frequent violations were having poor or no energy-control procedures, inadequate worker training, and incomplete annual inspections. “We conduct interviews with workers and get a lot of feedback on what actual procedures are being used,” Kapust said. Employers can’t just buy a program and keep it on the shelf—they must implement it, he said.

6. Powered industrial trucks: 2,760 violations

Violations regarding the use of forklifts are up nearly 100 from fiscal year 2014. Common violations were workers not being certified to operate forklifts, workers not being evaluated every three years on their operator skills and inadequate operator training.

7. Ladders in construction: 2,489 violations

Ladder violations were up 41 since last year. Violations include damaged side rails, using the top ladder step as a rung, using a ladder not suitable for the job and placing excessive loads on ladders. “Don’t forget to tag defective ladders or just get rid of them,” Kapust said.

8. Electrical (wiring): 2,404 violations

Electrical violations that can cause electric shock and electrocutions actually went down in 2015. Violations included problems with flexible cords and cables, using uninsulated wiring and poor use of extension cords.

9. Machine guarding: 2,295 violations

Machine guarding violations increased by 95 this year. Violations included point-of-operation exposures and inadequate or no anchoring of fixed machinery. OSHA updated its nine-year-old National Emphasis Program on amputations in June 2015. OSHA compliance officers are directed to evaluate employee exposures during regular operation of machines, setup for regular operations, clearing jams, making adjustments while the machine is operating, cleaning and maintaining machines and locking out or tagging out.

10. Electrical (general): 1,973 violations

General industry electrical violations decreased by 83 since 2014. “We’ve seen more risk in retail establishments this year,” Kapust said, referring to blocked electrical panels.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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