Speaking at the 2014 National Safety Council Congress and Expo, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, shared preliminary numbers for the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards in fiscal year (FY) 2014. Keep reading to find out what made the cut this year and how you can avoid these common hazards in your facility.
While some items on the list shifted position within the top ten, all of the standards on this year’s list made an appearance last year. Notably, the top four violations—fall protection in construction, hazard communication, scaffolding in construction, and respiratory protection—appeared in exactly the same order in FY 2013 and FY 2012.
While the ranking of the top ten violations remains relatively static compared to previous years, the total number of violations cited is somewhat lower than the FY 2013 figure. This is partially due to the 3-week government shutdown in October 2013, during which OSHA lost the opportunity to conduct between 1,400 and 1,500 inspections. However, Kapust emphasized that OSHA is working to make up for the lost time, and the numbers are preliminary.
The top 10 most frequently cited standards for FY 2014 are as follows:
- Fall protection in construction (29 CFR 1926.501): 6,143 violations. Lack of fall protection has been a leading offender for several years. Common mistakes under this standard include failing to provide fall protection to employees working at heights, unprotected sides and edges, failing to use fall protection equipment correctly, and failing to provide protection from falling objects. In many cases, a fall protection program is completely nonexistent. Roofing and framing contractors, as well as single-family residential construction employers, are frequent violators of the fall protection standard.
- Hazard communication (29 CFR 1910.1200): 5,161 violations. Common hazard communication mistakes include failing to have a written program, failing to have safety data sheets (SDSs) for each chemical in the workplace, labeling mistakes, lack of employee training, and failing to provide employees with information on the hazards of the chemicals in the workplace. Significantly, Kapust commented that the 2012 changes to the hazard communication standard did not correspond to a significant number of violations; rather, most HazCom violations deal with much more basic mistakes that would also have been violations under the previous version of the standard.
- Scaffolding in construction (29 CFR 1926.451: 4,029 violations. Citations under the construction industry scaffolding standard often stem from scaffolds that are not fully planked, a lack of portable or hook ladders to access scaffold platforms, loading scaffolds in excess of their capacity, and failing to protect employees from fall hazards on scaffolds.
- Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134): 3,223 violations. Lack of a written program is the most commonly cited part of the respiratory protection standard. Other common mistakes include not performing a medical evaluation on employees who must wear respirators, failing to select and provide a respirator appropriate for the activity, failing to conduct fit testing, and failing to train employees.
- Lockout/tagout (29 CFR 1910.147): 2,704 violations. Many citations are issues under the lockout/tagout standard for the complete lack of a hazardous energy control program. Other common mistakes include failing to apply locks and tags as necessary and failing to remove unauthorized employees from the area during equipment service and maintenance. Notably, Kapust mentioned that lack of training was not one of the most frequently cited parts of the standard, which he attributed to the fact that employers who fail to provide training often lack a lockout/tagout program altogether and thus would be cited for that instead.
- Powered industrial trucks (29 CFR 1910.178): 2,662 violations. Lack of operator training is the most common pitfall under this standard. Other common mistakes include forklifts that are not in safe operating condition and modifications and additions that are not approved by the forklift manufacturer. Industries that frequently violate this standard include warehousing and storage and machine shops.
- Electrical, wiring methods (29 CFR 1910.305): 2,490 violations. Citations under this standard often occur when flexible cords are used in place of fixed wiring, conductors enter boxes unprotected, employees are exposed to live contacts, and circuit boxes are not designed to prevent moisture from entering.
- Ladders in construction (29 CFR 1926.1053): 2,448 violations. Common ladder hazards include using a ladder not designed for the load it is carrying, using extension ladders that do not provide enough overhang at the top to ensure stability, and using an inappropriate type of ladder for the job.
- Machine guarding (29 CFR 1910.212): 2,200 violations. To prevent machine guarding violations, employers should make sure to guard point of operation hazards, ingoing nip points, blades, rotating parts, and any other part of the machinery that may pose a hazard. Make sure that guards remain in place and are not removed by employees.
- Electrical, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.303): 2,056 violations. To prevent these citations, employers should ensure that qualified and unqualified workers are appropriately trained for their job tasks to avoid electric shock and electrocution.