You probably remember some top OSHA violations, like the most costly of all time issued in 2009 to BP Products of North America for $87 Million.
Last summer Thunderbolt shared the top 10 most costly OSHA violations across the United States between 2017-2018. Those huge dollar amounts turn heads, but do they paint a real life picture of what violating OSHA regulations could cost you?
OSHA violations can add up quickly, especially for repeat offenders. Let’s identify the most common citations for construction companies like yours and what exactly the safety administration wants you to do to stay compliant.
Most common OSHA violations in 2018
- Fall Protection: For the “General Requirements” category, OSHA issued 7,720 violations
- How to prevent a citation: On the most basic level, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces and six feet in the construction industry.
- Hazard Communication: 4,552 violations were issued in 2018.
- How to prevent a citation: This rule specifically applies to chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers. OSHA requires them to provide Safety Data Sheets with hazard information to downstream users for all hazardous chemicals they distribute.
- Scaffolds: For the “General Requirements” category, OSHA issued 3,336 violations
- How to prevent a citation: There are a lot of pieces to the general scaffolding requirements, but in short, the standard requires fall protection at a 10 foot height above a lower level. Also pay attention to the height of the toprail – scaffolds manufactured before Jan. 1, 2000 have to be between 36 and 45 inches while ones placed in service after that data must be between 38 and 45 inches. Lastly, make sure you have a competent person on your team that can inspect the height when complete.
- Respiratory Protection: In 2018, 3,118 citations were given by OSHA.
- How to prevent a citation: When accepted engineering control measures, like local ventilation or substituting for less toxic materials, are not feasible, employers must provide the use of respirators to protect employees from breathing contaminated air.
- Lockout/Tagout: 2,944 violations were given for lockout/tagout reasons.
- How to prevent a citation: First and foremost, make sure the equipment you are using can be locked out and, if it’s not, develop a tagout procedure. Part of that tagout procedure should be identifying which users are operating the devices and ensuring only that user removes it.
- Ladders: Improper ladder usage and set up resulted in 2,812 violations last year.
- How to prevent a citation: There are quite a few, very specific rules regarding ladders. It would be in your best interest to read all about them on the OSHA website so you can make sure you’re capturing everything you need to know about ladder safety.
- Powered Industrial Trucks: OSHA wrote 2,294 violations regarding what are otherwise known as forklifts and tractors.
- How to prevent a citation: A large piece of avoiding this violation has to do with the safety of the actual machinery itself. It must meet design and construction requirements, and approved trucks must bear a label by the testing agency. There are many other aspects to this standard, so we suggest reading up on it more!
- Fall Protection, Training Requirements: Differing from the fall protection in the number 1 spot, this specific training violation was cited 1,982 times.
- How to prevent a citation: As mentioned earlier, fall protection must be provided at 6 feet but even before that, training must occur. OSHA requires training prior to exposing workers to fall hazards 6 feet or more, so that means new employees cannot go up that high unless the training has been certified by a “competent person.”
- Machine Guarding: 1,972 violations were written in 2018 for machine guarding incidents.
- How to prevent a citation: Guarding needs to be provided to protect the user from hazards like sparks or rotating parts during operation. The rules around guards state that they need to be affixed to the machine where possible, or secured elsewhere if not on the machine. Ensure that the guard does not offer an accident hazard in itself.
- Personal Protection and Lifesaving Equipment: Specifically regarding eye and face protection, OSHA issued 1,536 violations.
- How to prevent a citation: As the employer, you need to make sure that your employees use the appropriate eye or face protection when exposure to hazards from: “flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids, chemical gases, or injurious light radiation.”
Whether you’ve ever been cited by OSHA or not, let 2019 be a brand new year for your construction firm. Understand your OSHA obligations, prevent citations, and you’ll have a great, violation-free year.
Need help tracking your employees training and compliance certifications?
Check out the Thunderbolt Compliance Tracker.