What are the 5 Most Frequent OSHA Violations?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established in 1970 to ensure workers receive safe working conditions. They ensure that employers in the United States comply with federal laws and regulations regarding safety and health. OSHA performed over 20,000 safety and health inspections each year. When a business fails to comply with standards, OSHA issues citations and fines to the business. Some violations are more common than others. Keep reading to learn more about the 5 most frequent OSHA violations.

  1. Fall Protection

Lack of fall protection in the construction industry was the most frequent OSHA violation in 2021. This OSHA violation has been the number one violation for the past decade. In 2021, OSHA issued 5,271 citations to framing contractors, flooring contractors, masonry firms, and housing construction contractors for failure to comply with the fall protection standards.

OSHA requires employers to determine if walking and working surfaces on which their employees do their work have the strength, durability, and structural integrity to do so. Additionally, OSHA requires employers to install a guardrail system, safety net system, or personal fall arrest system for any working height above four feet. A lack of safety protection and guardrails contributes to dangerous falls, the number one cause of death in construction.

  1. Respiratory Protection

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of citations for failing to implement respiratory protection and provide the proper PPE increased significantly. The primary offenders for this violation are auto body refinishing companies, painting contractors, and masonry contractors. Respiratory problems can occur when workers breathe in air contaminants like dust, gas, fumes, or vapors. The primary objective of this standard is to prevent atmospheric contamination by toxic substances through engineering control measures, local and general ventilation, and substitution when possible. 

  1. Ladders

Ladder violations in construction result from a variety of factors such as lack of training, improper ladder selection, ladder overloading, or lack of proper setup. According to the CDC, 57% of ladder deaths occur in the construction industry. All self-supporting, portable ladders should be able to carry at least four times the maximum intended load. OSHA requires all working ladders to be able to carry significantly more than their maximum intended weight. Ladder rungs and steps should be parallel, level, and uniform when the ladder is in position for use. Additionally, OSHA requires that the bottom and top of the ladder be secure and level when in use.

  1. Hazard Communication

OSHA requires employers to report the hazards of toxic or dangerous substances to their employees through a variety of channels. Hazard communication is a frequent OSHA violation among auto repair facilities and painting contractors. Employers must communicate the dangers of any hazardous chemicals through employee training. To avoid injuries related to miscommunication, all chemicals must be clearly labeled and accompanied by instructions on how to respond in the event of misuse. 

  1. Scaffolding

When construction employers fail to use correct procedures for installing and using scaffolding on a worksite, they violate OSHA regulations. These mistakes endanger the employees working on and under the scaffolding and could lead to both falling injuries and struck-by-falling object injuries. Scaffolding is a common part of construction work which makes it all the more important to comply with OSHA standards. Counterweights should be used to balance adjustable suspension scaffolds. Similarly to ladders, the scaffolding needs to be able to hold at least four times the maximum intended load.

How to Prevent Frequent OSHA Violations

In most cases, OSHA violations and workplace injuries are avoidable. Safety training and creating a culture of safety are key to improving your workplace safety. Frequently discuss safety protocols with employees and check in to see if there are any developing hazards at the worksite. Additionally, be sure to have your company’s hazard communication plan readily available, as this is one of the first documents OSHA inspectors want to see. Complying with OSHA standards may seem difficult, complex, and time-consuming. Talking to an occupational health professional, like Work Health Solutions, can help you improve the safety of your workplace!

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