Every autumn, after the sun goes down and our minds drift from pumpkin spice and falling leaves, we begin to entertain the thought of ghosts, ghouls, and other beings that roam in the night. However, there are far more troubling—and real—concerns highlighted every fall with the OSHA Top 10.
What is the OSHA Top 10?
At the end of every year—data is based on each Oct 1-Aug 15 period—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases its Top 10 Violations, signifying citations issued by OSHA staff conducting safety inspections of workplaces to assess adherence to the federal requirements. The 2019 OSHA Top 10 was unveiled in September at the National Safety Council (NSC) 2019 Congress & Expo.
Top 10 Violations of 2019
- Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 6,010 violations
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,671 violations
- Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,813 violations
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,606 violations
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,450 violations
- Ladders (1926.1053): 2,345 violations
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,093 violations
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,773 violations
- Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,743 violations
- Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,411 violations
Why is the OSHA Top 10 So Important?
Clearly, it is advantageous to shine a light on neglected practices in industry, certainly considering that OSHA requirements exist to keep personnel safe. However, one of the most concerning aspects of the OSHA Top 10 is its consistency.
Year after year, the OSHA Top 10 Violations remain largely unchanged. In fact, there is only one difference between the Top 10 Violations of 2018 and 2019: Respiratory Protection and Lockout/Tagout swapped the 4 and 5 positions. Otherwise, while the actual numbers in this preliminary report have decreased, they are identical to last year.
Failing to adhere to these standards is a serious matter. Falls are the leading cause of workplace fatalities. It’s no coincidence that fall protection continuously tops OSHA’s list.
Annually, there are around 5,000 fatal workplace injuries in the United States. This is a dismal truth to hear, but, unlike the other horrors that blossom throughout autumn, OSHA violations can be remedied. As stated by NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin:
“The OSHA Top 10 list is a helpful guide for understanding just how adept America’s businesses are in complying with the basic rules of workplace safety. This list should serve as a challenge for us to do better as a nation and expect more from employers. It should also serve as a catalyst for individual employees to recommit to safety.”
Voluntary Consensus Standards and Worker Safety
Complementing OSHA requirements, voluntary consensus standards enhance the safety of various worksites for a plentitude of practices. As such, they touch every aspect of safety pertinent to the OSHA Top 10.
The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP, formerly ASSE) develops numerous standards for fall protection, helping prevent the leading cause of workplace fatalities. Furthermore, there are standard developing organizations solely devoted to ladder safety (American Ladder Institute, ALI) and industrial trucks ( Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation, ITSDF). Even the number 10 violation gets some representation in this area—ANSI/ISEA Z87.1 covers eye and face protection.
With standards like these in place, autumn doesn’t have to be so frightening.