While no contractor wants to get cited by OSHA for a safety violation, many business owners persist in putting workers in harm’s way. Fines for OSHA violations can add up quickly and be devastating, as can the bad publicity and lawsuits for injuries due to ignoring safety regulations.
Each year, OSHA releases a list of the top ten categories receiving the most citations. We don’t know if Santa uses this list to help determine who’s been naughty, but we do want all of you and your employees to have a safe and healthy new year – so please keep on top of safety regulations and make sure your crew is trained in proper safety procedure.
The runaway winner for at least the 6th year in a row was fall protection (construction). It’s important to make sure your crew is operating safely in at-risk situations, and there are plenty of hard to reach spots where a crew might sacrifice safety for expedience. OSHA issued 6,010 fall protection citations in the past year, almost twice as many as even the number two violation in this list.
Hazard communication has been entrenched in second place for quite some time, and painting contractors are some of the most frequent violators. Make sure your crew is aware of how to handle potentially hazardous products! Citations were issued for lack of a written program, inadequate training and failing to properly develop or maintain safety data sheets.
Scaffold safety came in third, with common violations including failure to provide guardrails or to provide adequate support for the scaffold. Number four was regarding lockout/tagout equipment, mainly involving sawmills, machine shops, and plastics manufacturers.
Paint contractors were often in violation of the fifth-place winner; OSHA issued 2,450 citations for respiratory protection violations. Failing to establish a program, failing to perform required fit testing, and failing to provide medical evaluations were among the most frequently cited issues. Paint contractors also helped put ladder violations in sixth place, with citations including such trespasses as standing on the top rung of the stepladder, using defective ladders, and using ladders for the wrong purposes.
Number seven was for violations including powered industrial trucks, and number eight, as an adjunct to number one, was fall protection training – just as important as the protection itself is that your crew knows how to handle itself when working in areas where falling is a risk.
Machine guarding, not much of an issue in the paint industry, came in at number nine. Personal protective and lifesaving equipment (construction)—eye and face protection, a newcomer to the list in 2018, held on for the tenth spot. Commonly cited issues in this category included failing to provide eye and face protection where employees are exposed to hazards from flying objects; failing to provide eye protection with side protection; and failing to provide protection from caustic hazards, gases, and vapors.
All that said, best wishes for success in 2020! Start by being safe on New Year’s Eve.