OSHA: 2019’s Top 10 in Workplace Safety Violations August 10, 2020
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, just released its top 10 list of workplace health and safety violations for 2019. The agency’s findings are critical when it comes to limiting preventable occupational injuries and deaths, which the National Council on Occupation Safety and Health (National COSH) reports result in more than 50,000 fatalities every year. According to National COSH, many of these fatalities are from long-term occupational illnesses and acute traumatic injuries. All employers should be familiar with OSHA’s top 10 in order to ensure having up-to-date and effective policies that keep workers safe.
OSHA’s most recent list is nearly identical to its lists from the last ten years, illuminating a widespread failure of employers to make improvements and adequately protect workers from well-known industrial hazards. Here are the nation’s top 10 most common safety violations that the agency cited businesses for last year:
- Failure to observe fall protection (general requirements). OSHA requires employers to begin providing fall protection at a height of four feet. If an employee is working above hazardous machinery or equipment, no matter the distance, the employer must also provide fall protection. As one of OSHA’s “Fatal Four”, falls are a leading cause of worker injuries deaths in both construction and the general industry.
- Hazard communication violations. OSHA’s hazard communication standard is in place to maintain chemical safety in the workplace. Employers have to provide workers with information about what chemicals they are working with and what the hazards of working with those chemicals are. Employers must also train employees on how to safely handle chemicals in the workplace. Exposure to hazardous chemicals can result in a variety of occupational illnesses, like silicosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), toxic inhalation injuries, and reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, or RADS.
- Scaffolding violations. More than 2.3 million construction workers work on scaffolding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that scaffold-related accidents result in at least 60 deaths and 4,500 injuries each year. In fact, falls from scaffolding comprise approximately one-quarter of fatal industrial falls. Employers are obligated to complete certain OSHA-mandated safety checklists and utilize well-known control methods that limit scaffold-related hazards from resulting in fatal accidents.
- Lack of compliance with lockout/tagout procedures. Lockout/tagout procedures are designed to safely control hazardous energy. In other words, lockout/tagout procedures effectively disable equipment or machinery in order to prevent the release of hazardous energy while employees are performing service or maintenance. Lockout/tagout procedures can control all different types of hazardous energies, such as electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, chemical, and thermal energy. Employers must establish energy control programs that are best suited to the equipment being used. A failure to implement and maintain lockout/tagout procedures can result in serious injuries and death.
- Respiratory protection failures. Federal law requires employers to provide respiratory protection to workers who are work in an environment without sufficient oxygen or where harmful fogs, dusts, fumes, vapors, sprays, smokes, or mists are present. Employers must also provide respiratory protection to workers exposed to toxic substances. OSHA’s respiratory protection standard also contains requirements for how to select the right respirator, employee training, medical evaluations, and more.
- Ladder safety violations. Data suggests that ladders are involved in approximately 20% of all workplace falls. OSHA has several requirements when it comes to ladder safety, such as a standard on the design for rungs and steps, safe climbing techniques, requirements for fixed, mobile, and portable ladders, and inspection requirements.
- Powered industrial trucks. There are several hazards associated with powered industrial trucks, such as falling load accidents, pedestrian safety issues and collisions. Powered industrial trucks can also cause accidents when they are accidentally driven off loading docks, fall in between loading docks and unsecured trailers, or fall while on an elevated pallet. Employers have to ensure that industrial truck operators are competent and trained, and they must do so by demonstrating the successful completion of OSHA’s powered industrial truck training and evaluation.
- Failure to fulfill training requirements for fall protection. Just like employers are obligated to provide general fall protection, they also have to fulfill basic fall protection training requirements. Employers must provide fall protection training to all employees exposed to fall-related hazards. The training must instruct employees on how to recognize hazards as well as how to minimize them.
- Machine guarding violations. Failure to properly guard machinery can result in catastrophic injuries, some of which are fatal. Different industries have different requirements for safeguarding machinery, but one thing that is common across the board is that the goal is to reduce preventable injuries like crushed fingers, blindness, amputations, and burns. Not only do employers need to safeguard machinery and equipment, they also must provide comprehensive training to employees on how to safely operate machinery and perform routine inspections and necessary maintenance.
- Failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes and face. Workers can sustain eye and face injuries in many different ways, like by exposure to flying particles, liquid chemicals, caustic or acidic liquids, dangerous levels of light radiation, molten metal, and chemical gases or vapors. Employers have to provide eye or face protection when workers are exposed to these known hazards and they also must ensure that employees who wear prescription lenses wear eye protection that incorporates the prescription into the design or that they are able to wear eye protection over their prescription lenses without it disturbing proper positioning.
If you were injured on the job because of your employer’s failure to uphold federal health and safety and guidelines, you may be eligible to collect Workers’ Compensation, a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. To learn more about filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, contact a representative at our firm online now.
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