OSHA recently unveiled its Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2014, with fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding and respiratory protection at the top for the third year running. While three on the list are construction industry standards, all hold important lessons for organizations looking to keep workers safe and avoid costly penalties.
Here, we break down some of the most common violations for each standard, plus key steps safety professionals can take to avoid them.
1. Fall Protection (construction)
Falls remain one of the most common causes of workplace injuries and fatalities, killing 294 people in 2013. Common citations include uncovered holes in flooring and roofs and inadequate protection of open sides and edges.
2. Hazard Communication
OSHA notes most HazCom violations involve pretty basic mistakes. Mistakes like not having a written hazard communication program, incorrect labeling of chemicals, lack of employee training and failure to make Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) available.
3. Scaffolding (construction)
With significant fall hazards wherever scaffolds are used, it’s not surprising that the most common scaffolding citations are lack of guardrails, improper planking and overloading.
4. Respiratory Protection
Roughly 5 million workers across the country are required to wear respirators. Unfortunately, there’s huge margin for error when it comes to outfitting workers with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).
It’s one reason why poor fit-testing and respirator selection protocols were among the top citations under this standard in 2014. Other common violations include not having a written program for respiratory protection or procedures for voluntary respirator use.
Serious or fatal injuries can occur when energy is released during servicing of equipment. It’s a significant risk, accounting for up to 10% of serious accidents in many industries. Common violations cited by OSHA include insufficient inspection, Training and energy control procedures.
6. Powered Industrial Trucks
EHS managers at warehouses and machine shops should be particularly aware of forklift hazards in the workplace. Again, insufficient training—or a complete lack thereof—is one of the most common citations OSHA issues under this standard.
7. Electrical (wiring)
Electrical hazards are a serious problem in many workplaces, with the potential to cause burns, shocks or worse. Common hazards identified in inspections this year include use of flexible cords instead of fixed wiring, inadequate protection for workers entering boxes and exposure to live contacts.
8. Ladders (construction)
Yet another fall-related standard makes the list. Damaged ladders, improper ladder use and excessive loads are some of the main issues cited by OSHA, all of which contribute to fall risks.
9. Machine Guarding
OSHA requires employers to safeguard any machine part, function or process that could injure an employee. The hazards most frequently identified during inspections include exposure at the point of operation, fixed machinery that’s improperly anchored (or not at all) and exposure to blades.
10. Electrical (general)
Similar to number seven, exposure to electric shock or electrocution led the pack for these violations. More than just mitigating hazards identified in the workplace, protecting workers requires an effective training program that ensures all workers know how to avoid electric shock.
Several themes repeat throughout OSHA’s list, including the importance of proper training, fall protection and written programs. Keeping workers safe while achieving compliance isn’t always straightforward, but the right EHS management software can eliminate a lot of the guesswork.
A flexible EHS management system one customized to your organization’s needs—provides crucial insight into safety gaps that threaten workplace safety. This increased visibility makes it easy to:
Ensure all workers are properly trained to avoid hazards specific to their role. Look for EHS management software that lets you automatically track required training and certifications by job function or department.
Review fall protection measures with every Job Safety Analysis (JSA). Your EHS management system should also be able to determine the appropriate PPE needed for the job.
Assign corrective and preventive actions for incidents and near-misses. A robust EHS management system can streamline the process, automatically routing CAPA requests through review, root cause analysis, action taken, verification and report generation.
Perform regular safety audits to proactively identify hazardous conditions, using Audit Management Software capabilities including built-in or custom checklists.
Centralize written programs to document your organization’s safety efforts. Your EHS management software should contain Document Control tools to ensure when one document is revised, any necessary changes are automatically propagated to relevant documents.
Does implementing a smart EHS management system eliminate the possibility of OSHA violations? Of course not. But it’s the best chance you’ve got to make sure issues don’t fall through the cracks.