01Fall Protection - Construction
Falls are a major cause of serious injuries in the workplace. To help protect workers from fall-related accidents, OSHA has developed two sets of Fall Protection standards. One applies to the construction industry and the other is relevant all other industries. In 2017, employers violated the Fall Protection Standard for the construction industry more than any other OSHA standard.
Construction workers face multiple fall hazards at a typical job site. They may tumble off ladders, roofs, or steel beams. They can fall down stairways or into deep holes. Workers can also fall into or onto hazardous machinery such as a table saw. The Fall Protection- Construction standard is designed to prevent fall injuries from high places as well as those that occur on or below ground level.
OSHA requires employers to use appropriate safeguards so workers don't fall off overhead platforms or elevated work stations or plummet into holes. Employers in the construction industry must provide fall protection at elevations of six feet or more. Many types of fall protection equipment are available. Examples are hole covers, safety harnesses, safety nets, toe-boards, and railings.
OSHA's fall protection webpage includes a variety of resources that can help employers comply with the Fall Protection standard. Employers can download videos, safety "quick cards," rule guides, tip sheets, and other documents.
Many workers are injured on the job through exposure to chemicals. OSHA's Hazard Communication standard is intended to prevent such injuries. It requires employers to create and implement a written hazard communication program.
Among other things, employers must create a list of all hazardous substances in the workplace and share the list with employees. They must educate workers about the dangers of those substances, and steps workers can take to protect themselves. Employers must train workers how to use the materials properly. They must also provide workers the proper protective equipment, such as gloves and masks.
The Hazard Communication standard was amended in 2012. The revised law imposes new labeling requirements on manufacturers. The changes were intended to make labels more consistent and informative. Employers must ensure that all hazardous substances in the workplace are properly labeled.
Construction workers often perform work off the ground by using scaffolds. Thousands of workers are injured or killed on the job every year due to scaffold accidents. Employees are most likely to be injured when climbing on or off scaffolds, or when erecting or dismantling them.
The Scaffold standard is specific to the construction industry. It is intended to protect workers from injuries caused by falls, falling objects, electrocution, or collapse of the scaffold. The standard establishes requirements that must be met when scaffolds are erected, used, or dismantled. Employers must ensure that all workers who use scaffolds receive the proper training.
Workers in many industries are exposed to dust, vapor, fumes, gases, smoke or sprays. When inhaled, these substances may cause lung injuries. Workers exposed to these materials over a long period may develop an occupational disease, such as silicosis or asbestosis.
OSHA's Respiratory standard requires employers to create, maintain and enforce a respiratory protection program. Employers must identify any airborne hazards that are present in the workplace. They must choose the right respirator to safeguard workers. They must also train workers how to use the equipment. Finally, employers must monitor the workplace to ensure that respirators are used and maintained properly.
05Lockout or Tagout
Many workers are seriously injured when a machine they are servicing suddenly starts up or releases stored energy. For instance, a worker is doing maintenance work on a production machine when he is injured by an electric shock. The shock was caused by electricity retained in the machine's electrical system. OSHA's Lockout and Tagout standard is intended to prevent such injuries.
A lockout device is a mechanism placed on a machine or equipment that prevents it from operating. A tagout is similar to a lockout device except that it contains a warning label. The label notifies workers that the machine can't be operated until the tagout device is removed. Lockout or tagout devices may be used on equipment powered by electrical, hydraulic, mechanical or some other type of energy.
According to OSHA, about 20% of the fall injuries that occur in workplaces every year involve the use of ladders. Because ladders are used in many different industries, OSHA's Ladder standard applies to all employers.
There are various types of ladders that may be used in a workplace. These include stepladders, portable ladders, and fixed ladders. OSHA offers the following tips for reducing ladder accidents. First, try to reduce or eliminate the need for ladders altogether. If possible, design projects so that most of the work is performed on the ground.
Secondly, replace ladders with safer alternatives such as aerial lifts. Thirdly, ensure that your workers use the right type of ladder for the task they are performing. Fourthly, provide proper accessories, like a safety belt and harness, when needed. Finally, be sure your workers are properly trained how to use ladders safely.
07Powered Industrial Trucks
Workers in many industries use forklifts, lift trucks, and similar types of mobile equipment to move heavy loads. OSHA calls such vehicles powered industrial trucks. Workers may be injured while entering or exiting a vehicle, while maneuvering it, or while handling a load. They may also cause injuries to fellow employees.
Almost 100,000 workers are injured every year in forklift accidents, according to OSHA. The agency estimates that one out of every ten forklifts is involved in an accident each year.
OSHA's Industrial Trucks standard requires employers to train workers on the proper operation of forklifts. If more than one type of forklift is used in the workplace (such as rider trucks and motorized hand trucks), employers must train workers on each one. Employers must certify that all employees who use forklifts have received the proper training. They must also evaluate each worker's skills at least every three years.
Many workers utilize machines to cut, punch or shear materials like metal, wood or plastic. These machines often contain parts that rotate, reciprocate (move up and down or back and forth), or move with a transverse motion (in a straight line). Others contain rotating parts (such as interlocking gears) that come together at nip points. All of these machines can cause serious injuries, including abrasions, lacerations, and amputations. OSHA's Machine Guarding standard is designed to prevent such injuries.
Employers have numerous options for protecting workers from hazardous machine parts. Examples are fixed guards, pressure-sensing devices, safety trip controls, and gates. To prevent injuries, employers must ensure that all hazardous machinery is properly guarded and that the guards are maintained.
09Fall Protection - Training Requirements
In contrast to the construction industry Fall Protection standard cited above, this one applies specifically to fall prevention training. It requires employers to provide a training program to any worker who might be exposed to fall hazards. Workers must be trained how to recognize the hazards of falling and the steps they should take to minimize their risk of injuries.
Workers must receive fall protection training in a language they can understand. If workers are not well-versed in English, they should be trained in their native language.
Employers must keep a written record certifying that each worker exposed to fall hazards has received appropriate training. The record must include the name of the worker, the date the training was completed, and the signature of the trainer or employer.
This standard is entitled Wiring Methods, Components and Equipment for General Use. Its purpose is to prevent electric shocks, burns, electrocution, and other injuries caused by faulty wiring.
The standard requires employers to ensure that electrical wiring is properly grounded. It bars the use of flexible wiring (including extension cords) as a substitute for fixed wiring in a building. Employers are permitted to use flexible wiring for certain purposes, such as lighting a Christmas tree.
Like most of OSHA's standards, the Electrical Wiring standard is very technical. If you need help understanding it, ask an electrician for assistance.
The 10 Most Violated OSHA Standards
Which workplace standards do employers violate the most? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) answers that question every year when it publishes its "top ten violations" list. The latest list reflects violations that occurred during the 2017 fiscal year (October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017).
OSHA's list of the "top ten violations" is fairly consistent from year to year. The 2017 list is similar to the one OSHA published in 2016. However, the 2017 list includes two Fall Protection standards while the previous list contained only one. Another change is the removal of the standard entitled Electrical, General Requirements from the "top ten" list in 2017.
Here is a list of the ten OSHA standards that employers violated the most in 2017. The standards are arranged in descending order beginning with Fall Protection - Construction, which generated the most violations.