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Countdown: OSHA's Top 5 Most Cited Violations of 2016

Written by Staff Writer

Top OSHA violations in 2015

OSHA's Top 5 Most Cited Violations in 2016 made its annual debut at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in October. With typically little variation from year-to-year, this data-driven list reminds employers and employees around the country that the same violations are costing businesses substantial money in citations and putting lives at risk. While it may feel like a broken record playing over and over again, it's really an opportunity for employers to change their tune about workplace safety by proactively identifying hazards and training employees to work safely.

Here we tell you about each violation and how to avoid these hefty citations in 2017.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) - 3,406 Citations

Who Is at Risk: Workers who service, repair and maintain equipment or machines run the risk of harm if said equipment is unexpectedly energized or started during work. Most citations in this area occur when an employer fails to have an energy control program, does not properly train employees on proper procedures, or does not periodically inspect energy control procedures.

Corrective Action: Lockout/Tagout standards establish procedures and requirements for the control of such hazardous energy. Standards training is available in a one-hour Lockout/Tagout certificate course and is also included as a topic in OSHA 30-hour training for General Industry.

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) - 3,573 Citations

Who Is at Risk: Employees who work around harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays and vapors are at risk of very dangerous occupational diseases if precautions are not taken to protect their respiratory systems. These citations are most frequently issued for medical evaluation requirements, implementation of a written respiratory protection program and fit testing.

Corrective Action: OSHA's Respiratory Protection standards set expectations for control measures, respirator use, cleaning and repair, written programs and worker medical evaluations Workers and employers should review information regarding Personal Protective Equipment, and should also make sure they have a customized respiratory protection plan for workers.

3. Scaffolding (1926.451) - 3,900 Citations

Who Is at Risk: Scaffolds are temporary structures used by workers while building, repairing and cleaning structures, and unfortunately, they can put workers in danger of falls, slips or struck-by falling object hazards. Citations under these scaffolding standards occur in the areas of employee fall protection, means of access, planking/decking, fall arrest or guardrail systems, and adequate firm foundation. Contractors for framing, roofing, siding and masonry were most commonly cited.

Corrective Action: Specific standards have been put into place to create requirements for the design, construction and use of scaffolds. Employees and employers building or using scaffolds can take a one-hour Scaffold certificate course to brush up on regulations and requirements.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) - 5,665 Citations

Who Is at Risk: Recent updates in Hazard Communication standards aligned OSHA's standards with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) standards already used internationally. Many businesses did not properly implement revisions or train employees on the new standards that went into effect in 2013. Most violations, though, were due to employers not having a written hazard communication program at all, or not providing training and information on hazardous chemicals to workers.

Corrective Action: Hazard Communication standards address chemical hazards produced or used in the workplace, and governs how those hazards are communicated to workers through things like labels, safety data sheets and classification standards. Workers or employers who need to get familiar with up-to-date Hazard Communication standards can take an updated Hazard Communication Training course.

1. Fall Protection - General Requirements (1926.501) - 6,906 Citations

Who Is at Risk: Coming in at number one, and most notably for the sixth consecutive year, fall protection is the most cited category of violations. Designed to help prevent falls, which account for 39.9 percent of deaths in the construction injury, most of these violations occur on residential construction worksites. Depending on the situation, the employer may be required to supply (and train workers to properly use) guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems.

Corrective Action: This section of standards sets requirements for employers to provide fall protection to employees working or walking on surfaces that may be unstable or have unprotected sides and edges. Many employers choose to have Construction employees complete 10-hour OSHA training for the Construction industry, which covers Fall Protection in-depth. Employers and employees can also take a 1-hour Fall Protection Training course to refresh familiarity with requirements and standards.

Turning Up the Volume on Workplace Safety

OSHA's Top 5 Most Cited Violations in 2016 puts a much-needed spotlight on key areas of workplace safety that present some of the most dangerous hazards. Continuing the conversation year-round and thinking proactively about these hazards is the first step to reducing the risks in your workplace.

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