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How to Avoid the Top 10 OSHA Violations 2017 [Part 2]

UPDATED ARTICLE AVAILABLE: The Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2020

In our last post, we covered the #1-5 of most commonly cited OSHA violations of 2017, as well as tips to avoid them. 

Today, we'll look at the remaining five violations in order to help you improve your safety program and avoid serious fines. 

First, a quick recap of violations #1-5:

  1. Fall protection in construction
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout

(You can read the full article here.)

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The top 10 serious OSHA violations of 2017

6. Ladders in construction:

We mentioned in last week's post that falls contribute to 40% of fatal accidents in construction. Unsurprisingly, falls from ladders account for about 25% of those deaths. 

The culprit? Improper use of ladders, damaged ladders, and using the top step accounted for 2,241 OSHA violations this year alone. 

We've all seen workers reaching for something from the top step of the ladder — in fact, we've probably all done it ourselves.

Employers are required to train employees on proper ladder safety procedures, including choosing the right ladder for the job, removing damaged ladders from service, and maintaining three points of contact when climbing up or down a ladder. 

7. Powered industrial trucks:

It's easy to assume that because your employees drove to work they can safely operate forklifts, tractors, and motorized hand trucks. 

But that assumption led to 2,162 violations this year. 

When was the last time your employees received training on safe truck operation? You'll need to be able to show OSHA that you've provided both training and evaluation at least once every three years. 

Training should cover safe operation, the specific types of vehicles being used, workplace hazards created by those vehicles, and OSHA safety requirements. Workers must also demonstrate that they can operate the truck safely before you turn them loose. 

Finally, don't forget that OSHA requires refresher training anytime operators demonstrate a deficiency in operation. For example, if an employee is involved in a near miss, it's time to renew their training.

That's a lot to keep track of manually. Fortunately, you can easily stay on top of training currency and get notifications when training is due by using a training management software.

8. Machine guarding:

It only takes a split second for moving parts like saw blades, presses, and grinders to cause a life-altering injury. The numbers are staggering: workers who operate and maintain machinery suffer 18,000 amputations, lacerations, crush injuries, abrasions, and over 800 deaths every year. 

Machine guarding, which prevents exposure to hazardous parts of machines, was the 8th most common OSHA violation with 1,933 citations last year.

Although you likely have basic machine guards in place, it's worth taking a look to make sure all points of operation are properly guarded. A risk assessment can help identify potential hazards that you may have overlooked. Reviewing your facility's accident and near miss history can help you quickly identify places where guarding is needed.

The OSHA Machine Guarding eTool can also help identify and mitigate common hazards.

9. Fall protection training requirements:

All too often, employers purchase expensive safety nets or fall arrest systems, but fail to make sure employees are actually using it. There were 1,523 fall protection training violations last year alone.

Safety supervisors should make sure that employees are well-trained on fall hazards and prevention. If you're looking for a starting point, OSHA'S Fall Prevention Training Guide provides a lesson plan for employers to use. And, as we mentioned above, a training management system can help you measure the effectiveness of your safety program.

10. Electrical wiring methods:

The majority of the 1,405 electric wiring methods violations this year were found in general industry sectors, including food and beverage, retail, and manufacturing. In other words, electrical wiring errors can be present in any workplace. 

The most frequent violation is improper grounding of equipment and circuitry, and extension cords are one of the biggest culprits. Broken ground wires and plugs can prevent cords from being properly grounded, which means whatever is plugged into the cord can be turned on inadvertently. Teach employees to inspect extension cords before use and replace damaged cords immediately. 

Another little-known hazard: Electrical circuits are often grounded to metal water pipes. These pipes are frequently repaired or replaced with plastic pipe, which interrupts the path to ground and can cause fires or electrocution. 

Your takeaway

As you move toward the new year, it's time to evaluate whether you have the right systems in place to avoid a serious OSHA violation. Download our free safety calendar for ideas to inspire your toolbox talks and training events. 

Download the free 2023 workplace safety calendar