The preliminary results are in: fall-protection violations are the most common reason employers received a citation from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in 2017. The findings continue to highlight the potentially grave consequences of not properly training and protecting employees.
In OSHA’s preliminary Top 10 Most Cited Violations report for fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30, a total of 6,072 violations were issued for general requirement fall protections. Fall protection violations were followed by 4,176 hazard communication violations, 3,288 scaffolding violations, 3,097 respiratory protection violations and 2,877 lockout/tagout violations to round out the top five, according to the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health magazine. Other violations on OSHA’s top 10 list include ladder, power industrial truck, machine guarding, fall-protection training requirements, and electrical wiring method violations.
“One thing I’ve said before in the past on this is, this list doesn’t change too much from year to year. These things are readily fixable,” Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, said when the numbers were announced at the 2017 National Safety Council’s Congress & Expo.
Indeed, the order of last year’s top five list and 2015’s list and 2014’s are mirror images of this year’s top 5 list. The next year with order variation is 2013, and that’s for the No. 5 position.
The fact that the same fixable violations are included repeatedly on the list should be a cause for concern. Employees have the right to work in a safe environment, and these repeated violations point to systemic issues that threaten worker safety.
It should come as no surprise with fall protections leading the violation list that most of the deaths in the construction industry in 2015, the latest year data is available, occurred due to falls. That is not a random coincidence. It proves the need for employee safety regulations.
In the midst of deregulation and budget cuts, workers are the ones who truly suffer. It’s easy to forget that OSHA regulations are in place to ensure workers make it home unharmed each evening. When employers violate OSHA laws, it’s employees who pay the price.
OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations report with 2017’s confirmed data will be published in the December edition of Safety + Health magazine.
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National Safety Council’s Safety + Health
Beasley Allen Law Firm