The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has once again released its annual list of the top 10 cited violations. This list is the culmination of the workplace safety inspections conducted throughout the Fiscal Year 2017 by OSHA staff, in which they identify and issue citations for violations of the federal requirements.
- Fall Protection – General Requirements: 6,072 violations
- Hazard Communication: 4,176
- Scaffolding: 3,288
- Respiratory Protection: 3,097
- Lockout/Tagout: 2,877
- Ladders: 2,241
- Powered Industrial Trucks: 2,162
- Machine Guarding: 1,933
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 1,523
- Electrical – Wiring Methods: 1,405
While this list currently is preliminary and may be subject to change, there are a lot of familiar topics here from previous years. Fall protection once again tops this list, surmounting the second highest violation (hazard communication) by almost 2,000 citations. Frequently violated requirements in this area (29 CFR 1926.501) result in unprotected edges and open sides in residential construction, as well as failure to provide fall protection in low-slope roofs.
A common trend in OSHA’s list of top violations every year is that their placement is relatively static. Fall protection has continuously held its place at the top, and, for the most part, the others generally only shuffle around, finding varied order among the top 10.
However, one addition to the 2017 list was not included in OSHA’s top 10 violations of 2016. However, it relates closely to the long-standing top source of citations, and it is fall protection – training requirements. These violations result simply from a failure in adequately training workers in identifying fall hazards and properly using fall protection equipment. Ranked at 9 this year, training requirements for fall protection has bumped electrical – general requirements out of the list of top violations.
While these citations only mark instances in which a violation was recorded and not actual events in which they led to worker harm, they do reflect the harsh reality of disastrous incidents in the workplace. Falls are a leading cause of workplace injuries, and a significant portion of fall-related accidents result in death. Falls are responsible for a major portion of deaths in construction, being part of Construction’s “Fatal Four” and comprising almost 40 percent of fatalities in that industry. Also part of the Fatal Four is electrocutions, which take up a lesser but still-alarming 8.6 percent of deaths in construction.
OSHA requirements exist for a reason. Voluntary consensus standards, including American National Standards and international documents, work in tandem with OSHA requirements, offering recommendations that help to assure workplace safety.
OSHA’s top 10 violations exist to shed light on overlooked workplace safety factors so that worker safety remains a priority.