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Top OSHA Hazards Persist

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

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Fall-protection lapses have dominated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's annual list of the most frequently cited federal workplace safety violations in the U.S. for the fifth year in a row.

And little has changed in the rest of the top citation areas, the agency revealed at a National Safety Council conference late last month.

Building painter
© iStock.com / Terry J Alcorn

Fall protection citations top the list of most frequently cited OSHA violations for fiscal year 2016, according to a recent analysis.

Hazard communication, scaffold hazards and respiratory protection also remain at the top of the list in spots 2 through 4, as in recent years, the agency reported.

The OSHA Top 10 list shines a spotlight on areas where more attention is needed in the workplace. The preliminary top 10 violations for fiscal year 2016 are:

Rank Standard Category Standard 2016 Citations 2015 Citations 2015 Rank
1 Fall Protection 1926.501 (C) 6,929 6,721 1
2 Hazard Communication 1910.1200 5,677 5,192 2
3 Scaffolds 1926.451 (C) 3,906 4,295 3
4 Respiratory Protection 1910.134 3,585 3,305 4
5 Lockout/Tagout 1910.147 3,414 3,002 5
6 Powered Industrial Trucks 1910.178 2,860 2,760 6
7 Ladders 1926.1053 (C) 2,639 2,489 7
8 Machine Guarding 1910.212 2,451 2,295 9
9 Electrical Wiring 1910.305 1,940 2,404 8
10 Electrical, General Requirements 1910.303 1,704 1,973 10


The figures are considered accurate as of Sept. 30, according to the NSC.

"Every year the OSHA Top 10 serves as a guide for employers to address the biggest safety risks facing their employees," said NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman.

"We look forward to working with employers to reduce these incidents and ensure every workplace is on a journey to safety excellence," Hersman added.

‘It Rarely Changes’

According to the U.S. Department of Labor blog, the data was compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

“One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes,” Thomas Galassi, OSHA’s director of enforcement programs, wrote in the blog. “Year after year, our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

asbestos worker
© iStock.com / Brasil2

Nearly 3,600 citations regarding respiratory protection violations were issued to date in 2016, despite employers knowing it is possible to prevent long-term and potentially fatal health problems associated with breathing in asbestos, silica or other toxic substances.

Galassi notes that more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers.

“If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline,” Galassi said.

Falls remain among among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, Galassi noted, with ladder and scaffold safety issues making an appearance in addition to fall protection—even though employers know how to protect workers in these areas and OSHA has an ongoing campaign to educate workers and employers.

“Employers must take these issues seriously,” Galassi said.

Moreover, respiratory protection is essential for preventing long-term and potentially fatal health problems associated with breathing in asbestos, silica or other toxic substances, according to the DOL.

“But we can see from our list of violations that not nearly enough employers are providing this needed protection and training,” Galassi added.

In an effort to help employers go beyond the minimum requirements and create an effective culture of safety at work, OSHA recently released a set of new Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs to help employers create safety and health programs in their workplaces.

“We have many additional resources, including a wealth of information on our website and our free and confidential On-site Consultation Program,” Galassi said, “but tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.”

The final report on the Top 10 violations for 2016 will be published in the December edition of the NSC’s Safety+Health magazine.


Tagged categories: Citations; Fall protection; hazardous materials; Health and safety; Ladders; OSHA; Respirators; Safety; Scaffolding; Violations

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