Fall Protection Tops OSHA’s Violations of 2013

By Roy Maurer Oct 2, 2013
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CHICAGO—Fall protection once again tops the list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) most-cited workplace-safety violations.

OSHA announced the top 10 most frequently cited workplace-safety violations for fiscal year 2013 at the National Safety Council Congress and Expo on Oct. 1.

“I’m not surprised at all that fall protection is at the top of the list,” said Tracy L. Moon Jr., an attorney at Fisher & Phillips, based in Atlanta. Among the reasons for this, according to Moon, are that OSHA has expanded its emphasis programs in this area and has begun focusing more on residential construction.

The top 10 most frequently cited workplace-safety violations for fiscal year 2013 are as follows:

1. Fall protection: 8,241 violations

Frequently violated requirements included the protection of open sides and edges, to prevent falls from roofs and to cover holes.

2. Hazard communication: 6,156 violations

Businesses 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 material-safety data sheets.

3. Scaffolding: 5,423 violations

Violations included problems with scaffold construction, improper worker access to scaffolding surfaces and lack of guardrails.

4. Respiratory protection: 3,879 violations

Frequent violations included not having a written respiratory-protection program, having poor fit-test procedures and an unsuitable respirator-selection process, and not having procedures to voluntarily use respirators.

5. Electrical (wiring): 3,452 violations

Violations included problems with flexible cords and cables, boxes and temporary wiring; poor use of extension cords; and use of temporary wiring as permanent wiring.

6. Powered industrial trucks: 3,340 violations

Common violations were inadequate operator training and refresher training and poor condition of trucks when returned to service after repair.

7. Ladders: 3,311 violations

Violations included damaged side rails, using the top ladder step, using a ladder not suitable for the job and placing excessive loads on ladders.

8. Lockout/Tagout: 3,254 violations

Frequent violations were having poor or no energy-control procedures, inadequate worker training and incomplete inspections.

9. Electrical (general): 2,745 violations

Common violations were related to electric shock and electrocution exposures.

10. Machine guarding: 2,701 violations

Violations included point-of-operation exposures, inadequate or no anchoring of fixed machinery, and exposure to blades.

While the standards being violated are no surprise, the number of violations for all 10 of the most-cited standards has significantly increased from 2012. “There’s more aggressive enforcement,” said Moon. “OSHA is out there conducting more investigations. They’ve got more compliance officers. More citations are being issued.”

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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