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Top 10 "Serious" OSHA Violations

Written by Staff Writer

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly referred to as OSHA, is in charge of assuring safe and healthy working conditions through established standards, education, training, and assistance. Each year, OSHA releases reports about the most cited violations, the most serious violations, and willful violations committed with disregard or indifference to OSHA requirements.

Often resulting in sever physical injury or death, the "serious" violations committed in the workplace concern OSHA especially. Below, the top 10 "serious" OSHA violations reported in 2014 are listed, including some statistics and tips for minimizing each type of potential hazard.

#1 - Fall Protection

The highest cited serious violation in 2014 was fall protection. In 2014, there were 6,348 fall protection violations reported. OSHA standards require employers to construct and install safety systems to prevent falls in the workplace. These regulations are specifically designed for employees working on surfaces with an unprotected edge more than six feet in the air

For more information on fall protection standards, you can visit OSHA's website. If you own or work for a construction business and need training, considering taking an OSHA Fall Protection Certificate Course for the Construction Industry found here.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Provide employee supervision to prevent falls
  • Protect sides and edges with a barrier
  • Test the stability of surfaces to prevent falling through
  • Use extra caution on steep and low-slope roofs

#2 - Scaffolding

Similarly, scaffolding, the second highest rated serious violation in 2014, poses serious safety risks for workers. There were 4,533 total serious violations reported that year. To ensure worker safety, a qualified person must design, construct, and load scaffolding using a tested layout. This OSHA regulation is especially important for construction workers who are working at heights greater than 10 feet.

For more information on scaffolding regulations, visit OSHA's "A Guide to Scaffold Use in the Construction Industry". For training on OSHA's scaffolding regulations, you can earn a certificate of completion here.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Provide barriers around edges to prevent falls
  • Use guardrail supports on platforms
  • Limit worker access to scaffolding areas
  • Pay attention to the weight capacity on scaffolding structures

#3 - Hazard Communication

Hazard communication, which had 3,282 serious hazard communications violations reported in 2014, involves chemical hazards that appear in the workplace. This includes chemicals produced at the job site and ones brought in for use on the job. OSHA requires employers to properly train and communicate with employees about these hazards.

More information regarding Hazard Communication can be found here. You can also receive training on OSHA Hazard Communication Standards here.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Improve employee training and provide continuing education about chemicals
  • Maintain safety data sheets
  • Ensure that informative labels are placed on all chemical containers

#4 - Ladders

Ladders are used in a variety of workplaces and continue to be one of the top safety hazards, reaching 2,688 reported violations in 2014 alone.

You can read the general ladder requirements on OSHA's website here or take a detailed class regarding specific ladder and stairway regulations here to earn a certificate of completion.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Ensure ladder side rails extend at least 3 feet above upper surface
  • Only use ladders for their intended purpose
  • Remove defective ladders from the workplace
  • Only use ladders on stable and level surfaces

#5 - Lockout/Tagout

OSHA lockout/tagout violations are related to the standards for controlling hazardous energy during the maintenance and servicing of workplace equipment. There were 2,447 serious lockout/tagout violations reported in 2014.

Learn more about the regulations here, and you can receive official OSHA training here.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Ensure proper testing and positioning of equipment and machines
  • Inspect work areas to remove unnecessary items and verify that the equipment is intact
  • Train employees about energy control procedures

#6 - Machine Guarding

Machine guarding helps protect machine operators and employees in the vicinity from potential hazards, which include rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. In 2014, 2,204 serious machine guarding incidents were reported.

More information on the OSHA's Machine Guarding regulations is available here. If you or your employees need Machine Guarding training, you can receive an official OSHA Machine Guarding Certificate through this class.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Properly anchor fixed machinery
  • Use extreme caution with blades
  • Monitor all points of operation

#7 - Powered Industrial Trucks

Powered industrial trucks include forklifts and motorized hand trucks used in the workplace. There were 2,198 of these serious violations reported in 2014.

Go to OSHA's website to learn more about the regulations regarding Powered Industrial Trucks.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Train operators according to OSHA standards
  • Ensure the competency of truck operators
  • Remove unsafe trucks until they are repaired

#8 - Electrical - Wiring Methods

OSHA requires businesses to adhere to certain safety requirements to prevent various hazards caused by electrical systems, which had 2,191 violations reported in 2014.

You can learn more about Wiring Methods here. You can take a course that covers Wiring Methods here.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Carefully examine all electrical equipment before use
  • Disconnect means and circuits
  • Identify manufacturers and ratings of electrical systems

#9 - Respiratory Protection

Industries that handle toxic chemicals can put their employees at risk of respiratory conditions. There were 2,154 serious respiratory protection violations reported in 2014.

For more information on OSHA's Respiratory Protection standards, you can visit the website here.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Adhere to medical evaluation requirements
  • Incorporate respirator use and cleaning
  • Provide employees with respiratory protection training and information

#10 - Electrical - General Requirements

The last of the top 10 serious OSHA violations in 2014 is electrical safety's general requirements. There were 1,715 of these serious violations reported in 2014.

You can read about OSHA general requirements for electrical safety here, or take an OSHA Electrical Certificate Course here that provides training on the General Requirements as well as Wiring Methods.

Safety & Prevention Tips

  • Examine all electrical equipment before use
  • Identify relevant manufacturers and ratings
  • Identify devices, like pressure terminals and splicing connectors, and the the conductor's material to properly install and use them