Scary: OSHA releases 2017’s Top 10 workplace safety violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has analyzed its files and determined what dangerous conditions were most prevalent at work in fiscal year 2017. As is often the case, many (but not all) of the violations were focused in the construction and industrial fields.

Here are the Top 10 most common workplace safety violations this year, based on the number of citations:

10. Faulty electrical wiring, including the improper use of extension cords. 1,405 violations (down from 1,937 last year).

9. Lack of appropriate fall protection training. 1,523 violations. The gear won’t save you if you don’t know how to use it properly.

8. Machine guards disabled or removed. 1,933 violations (down from 2,448 in 2016). Common industrial and construction machines require guards to protect workers from sparks, nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and more. These are often intentionally removed to promote efficiency and ease of use.

7. Forklift use and training violations. 2,162 violations (down from 2,855 in 2016). Every three years, drivers of powered industrial trucks must receive training, certification and reevaluation.

6. Improper use of ladders. 2,241 violations (down from 2,625 last year). This can include using ladders of insufficient height, failure to set them up properly or even stacking ladders on objects.

5. Lack of training and inspections in lockout/tagout procedures. 2,877 violations (down from 3,406 last year). When machinery can start up unexpectedly or release hazardous energy during maintenance, lockout or tagout procedures are put in place to protect workers.

4. Respiratory protection violations. 3,097 violations (down from 3,573 in 2016). Respirators are masks meant to protect workers from airborne particles and hazards. The violations included failure to have a written plan for respiratory protection and failure to conduct regular medical examinations on workers who use respirators in their work.

3. Scaffolding violations. 3,288 violations (down from 3,900 in 2016). Typical violations include improper setup and construction of scaffolding, lack of guardrails, and unsafe access points to scaffolding surfaces.

2. Poor hazard communication. 4,176 violations (down from 5,665 last year). Whenever a company uses hazardous chemicals, it must have a written hazard communication plan. Additionally, they must ensure that all containers are labeled, train employees on their proper use, and provide material safety data sheets to workers.

1. Fall protection violations. 6,072 violations (down from 6,906 in 2016). Typical violations include failure to provide guards for open sides and edges, which keep workers from falling.

The great news is that violations were down in all areas that were on the Top 10 list last year. The not-so-great news is that there are still hundreds or thousands of violations in these basic areas every year — which can cause serious injury to workers.

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