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What Are OSHA’s Top Safety Violations?

By Butler Prather LLP on June 22, 2021

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plays a critical role when it comes to workplace safety throughout the United States. OSHA has regulations for safety requirements in most workplaces throughout the country, and an employer’s failure to abide by these regulations could result in significant consequences. Each year, OSHA compiles a list of the top violations that they encounter when they conduct inspections of workplaces throughout the US. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys want to share the most recent top safety violation list so that you have an understanding of whether or not you are operating in a safe workplace.

1.    Fall protections (general requirements)

Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace. General fall protections are also the most commonly cited violation employers receive from OSHA. Employers are required to provide fall protection to workers to prevent them from falling from overhead platforms, elevated workstations, or onto floors or walls that have holes in them. For most jobs, fall protections need to be provided at elevations of four feet or higher, though different industries have varying requirements.

2.    Hazard communication

Anytime there are hazardous chemicals that employees will have to interact with or come close to, the employer has an obligation to communicate information about the identity of the chemicals and the hazards associated with each of them.

3.    Respiratory protection

Employers have to provide respirators anytime workers will have to inhale smoke, gas, sprays, dust, mists, papers, or other harmful particulates. Failure to do so could result in significant respiratory diseases, lung impairment, and various types of occupational cancers.

4.    Scaffolding violations

An incredible number of all construction injuries occur because of scaffolding problems. Scaffolding is used on just about any worksite where construction is ongoing at multiple levels. These scaffolds must be constructed and maintained properly in order to ensure employee safety.

5.    Ladder violations

Ladders must be used safely in all workplaces. Falls from ladders make up a large percentage of fatalities in the construction industry.

6.    Lockout/Tagout Violations

Workers who do service or maintenance work on machines and other equipment could be seriously injured due to the release of stored-up energy or when the machine starts up unexpectedly. For example, if a worker is fixing a pipe connection, they could suffer from severe burns if a steam valve is automatically turned on. It is crucial to have safety systems in place to prevent the release of energy while construction or maintenance is ongoing.

7.    Industrial vehicle incidents

Vehicles are used in various workplaces, including traditional passenger vehicles as well as vehicles like forklifts or tractors. Before a worker can operate a powered vehicle in the workplace, they must demonstrate competency to do so.

8.    Fall protection (training requirements)

OSHA takes fall protection so seriously that they have an entirely different category related to whether or not employers properly train workers about fall prevention.

9.    Personal protective or lifesaving equipment violations

It is critical for employers to provide proper protective gear and lifesaving equipment, particularly when workers operate around hazardous chemicals or conditions that could cause severe injuries or illnesses.

10. Machine guarding

Any equipment that has moving parts should have safeguards in place to prevent amputations, burns, crushed body parts, lacerations, etc. Any moving part should be behind a machine guard that prevents these incidents from occurring.

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