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Workplace Safety: Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2012

By Jason R. Markle

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency tasked with formulating and enforcing laws and regulations to promote workplace safety and reduce on-the-job injuries.  Despite significant improvements in workplace conditions over the last forty years, however, workplace injuries and deaths are still common. In 2011, 4,609 workers were killed in workplace accidents, amounting to 13 deaths every day.  Additionally, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly four million Americans are injured at work every year.

In an effort to raise awareness among employers and employees alike, OSHA has recently released its top ten violations cited in fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011).  Unfortunately, most violations on the list will come as no surprise to anyone who has worked in the construction industry.  The top ten violations are as follows:

  1. Fall Protection, Construction (7,250 citations): OSHA’s fall protection standards outline when fall protection is required, which systems are appropriate for given situations, the proper construction and installation of safety systems, and the proper supervision of employees to prevent falls.
  2. Hazard Communication, General Industry (4,696 citations): These standards address the hazards of chemicals produced in the workplace and imported to the workplace, as well as the communication of those hazards to workers.
  3. Scaffolding, Construction (3,814 citations): OSHA’s scaffolding regulations cover the general safety requirements for scaffolding, which should be designed by a qualified person and constructed and loaded in accordance with that design.  Employers are required to protect construction workers from falls and falling objects while working on or near scaffolding at heights of ten feet or higher.
  4. Respiratory Protection, General Industry (2,371 citations): These standards require employers to establish and maintain a respiratory protection program.
  5. Ladders, Construction (2,310 citations): OSHA’s ladder standards govern general requirements for the use of ladders on construction jobsites.
  6. Machine and Machine Guarding, General Industry (2,097 citations): This standard covers guarding of machinery to protect operators and other employees from hazards.
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks, General Industry (1,993 citations): These standards govern the operation, maintenance and design of powered industrial trucks, including forklifts and motorized hand trucks.
  8. Electrical – Wiring Methods, General Industry (1,744 citations): This standard covers the grounding of electrical equipment, wiring and insulation.
  9. Control of Hazardous Energy: Lockout/Tagout, General Industry (1,572 citations): This OSHA rule outlines minimum performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment.
  10. Electrical – General Requirements, General Industry (1,332 citations): These standards cover general safety requirements for designing electrical systems.

Over the last twenty-five years, the attorneys at Keches Law Group have represented construction workers from all trades, including ironworkers, laborers, carpenters, boilermakers, bricklayers, electricians, roofers, millwrights and heavy equipment operators.  We understand the rules that govern construction sites and have the capital to employ experts who can explain to a jury how a construction company violated OSHA’s safety regulations.  If you’ve been injured at work and would like to discuss your rights, please feel free to contact me at 508-822-2000 or jmarkle@kecheslaw.com.

Source: National Safety Council: Examining the Top Ten.