Regulations and safety are probably the last things a person wants to think about as they start the New Year. However, OSHA’s job of keeping workers safe and employers accountable is never going to be completed. For this reason, OSHA releases statistics, lists, and facts throughout the year so that the American public can be informed about workplace safety and the dangers of breaking OSHA regulations. As OSHA seeks to protect workers in the New Year, one of the first lists they release is the top 10 citations of the previous year. The goal of the list is to warn workers of the top safety concerns of OSHA from last year in order to prevent them from happening again this year.
Stay safe, and take a look at the preliminary list of the top 10 OSHA citations of the 2017 year.
Fall Protection (6,072 Violations)
For employees who work on a single level building day in and day out, fall protection being the number one workplace violation of 2017 may come as a surprise. However, studies have shown that falling objects are truly a rampant problem throughout the United States. In a recording period in 2015, there were 52,260 reported incidents of people being struck by work-related falling objects. The actual total of people who are struck by workplace items is probably much higher (due to accidents that are not reported). However, if accounting for reported accidents only, this number translates to 143 people being struck by objects each and every day in America. Employees must be aware of how they carry their tools from one level to another so they don't pose a fall risk.
Hazard Communication (4,176 Violations)
Hazard communication is the backbone of hazard prevention. Bright colors, skull / crossbones signs, correct labeling, and many more signals help people stop and think about what they do before they do it. Hazard communication has proven to affect people’s decision making; in some cases, it is the sole reason a person is kept from injury or fatality. While many workers know the safety implications of the tools they use, hazard communications are a direct help for new employees on the job or for pedestrians who are in a dangerous area. Communication is key in keeping a work environment safe.
Scaffolds (3,288 Violations)
Scaffolds are ingenious inventions that allow workers to quickly reach higher areas that need servicing. However, scaffolds are also dangerous tools that require intentional care in assembly and maintenance. Scaffolds are proven to be the cause of at least 10,000 construction-related accidents annually. Estimations show that proper care of scaffolding would save at least 50 workers from fatal accidents every year. These statistics are unnerving, but are exacerbated by the fact that scaffold violations are OSHA’s third-highest violation of 2017. Despite the potential risk of worker injury resulting from scaffolding failure, companies are clearly not taking the risks seriously. If they were, the number of 2017 violations would be significantly lower than calculated.
Respiratory Protection (3,097 Violations)
Respiratory protection is the fourth most reported violation in 2017. Respiratory protection being the fourth highest violation of last year is a shocking revelation due to the seriousness of respiratory functions. Whether a construction worker fails to wear a small mask to protect themselves from breathing in dust particles or a firefighter’s respirator is shown to have a leak, failure in respiratory protection is no small matter. The lungs are sensitive organs that need the best fortification possible. When respiratory defense is either voluntarily or unknowingly compromised, workers are in serious danger of developing long-term respiratory issues. Employees should always use their respiratory equipment when necessary, and supervisors should check the integrity of respiratory equipment.
Lockout / Tagout (2,877)
Another serious matter that is reported regularly is lockout-tagout violations. A lock and tag safety procedure is the last line of defense against workplace injury. Dangerous machines (table saws, production lines, oil drills) are necessary inventions that keep the demands of everyday society fulfilled. However, these machines can cause serious harm if they uncontrollably malfunction.
In case of machine failure (or human error that puts someone in imminent danger of a machine’s regular functions,) locks and tags are emergency buttons or systems that will immediately stop a machine from continuing to run. For example, if someone’s sleeve gets caught in a conveyer belt and they are being pulled into a dangerous machine, the lock and tag system of that machine will be engaged so the mechanism and conveyer belt powers down, allowing the worker to stay protected in the face of extreme bodily harm. Suffice to say, when a lock and tag system is in code violation with OSHA, it is a blessing that a worker was not caught in the machine before the violation was found.
Arnold & Itkin Has Helped Workers Who Suffered from Each of These Violations
These violations are alarmingly commonplace in American workspaces, but the truth of the matter is that these numbers only represent the identified OSHA violations, and therefore the amount of potential harm is much higher. However, our industrial injury attorneys at Arnold & Itkin have represented thousands of clients who have suffered from failures in safety. Our firm has recovered billions of dollars on behalf of workers just like you. If you have suffered from workplace injury, we know that you have suffered incredible wrong, but we can make it right.
Call fora free case evaluation from one of our attorneys.