Every year OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) publishes the year’s top 10 most cited workplace violations. The list offers important insights into what causes workplace injury, and what each of us can do to prevent injury. You may be surprised to find that even those who perform relatively “safe jobs” are in fact still at risk for serious injury.
Top 10 violations:
1) Fall Protection/ General Requirements
Who’s at risk? Warehouse workers, retail workers, communication specialists, engineers, etc.
These violations include failure to install proper construction and safety systems to prevent employees walking or working on surfaces above 6 feet. Andrew Finkelstein, managing partner, and firm partner Kenneth Fromson recently settled a case for $12.7 million dollars after our client fell 10 plus feet off of an unprotected edge at a warehouse. Fall injuries are often very serious and can have devastating long term physical, financial, and emotional effects. Learn more
2) Hazard Communication
Who’s at risk? Nurses, medical technologists, dentists, dental assistants and dental laboratory technologists, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, metal workers, service unit operators (oil, gas, mining), chemical plant employees, airline pilots, engineers, and flight attendants, etc.
These violations relate to an employers failure to properly address chemical hazards in the workplace. Chemical hazards include substances that pose any number of health hazards or physical hazards, ranging from irritation to carcinogenicity, and substances that are flammable, potentially explosive, etc. In addition to training employees on how to effectively protect themselves from harmful exposure, employers are also required to have labels and safety data sheets for exposed workers.
3) Scaffolding Violations
Who’s at risk? Construction workers, painters, etc.
Scaffolding violations occur when an employer fails to assign or abide by appropriate safety requirements.
4) Respiratory Protection
Who’s at risk? Firefighters, medical professionals, construction workers, medical technicians, chemical plant workers, etc.
Respiratory protection is designed to protect workers in insufficient oxygen environments, environments with harmful dusts or fogs, vapors, gases, etc. The proper use of respiratory protection can prevent serious health complications, including cancer and death. If respiratory protection is required, employers must provide the appropriate type of respirator, train employees, clean respirators and maintain and repair respirators as necessary.
5) Lockout/Tag Out
Who’s at risk? Electrical workers, engineers, etc.
Lockout/tag out refers to the safety procedure that ensures dangerous machines are properly turned off during maintenance or servicing work, and won’t power back prematurely.
Other top violations include: powered industrial trucks, ladders, machine guarding, electrical/wiring methods, and electrical/general requirements.
Regardless of where you work, or what you do, you can and should expect your employer to provide you with a relatively safe working environment. This means following safety procedures and being prepared if an emergency does occur. For more information about workplace safety click here.