Multiple Offenses: When Safety Violations Compound

multipleAlthough any singular injury or fatality on a construction site will incur fines and inspections from OSHA, too often it is reported that a company is being cited for multiple or repeat offenses. These types of violations underscore the importance of a comprehensive safety program, for even one weak link in an otherwise sound training program can mean the difference between a safe and a hazardous worksite.

For example, a recycling corporation in Cutchogue, N.Y. was recently cited for 11 serious violations of workplace safety standards including lack of specific written procedures to lock out machines, failure to train employees on the hazards of working in confined spaces, lack of fall and respiratory protection.

Repeat offenses will also garner attention from state or federal safety enforcement. Last month, an Alabama company was cited for two repeated and six serious violations, including failure to use an explosion-proof forklift in an area filled with flammable gas; failure to protect workers from electrical hazards and failure to notify OSHA within 24 hours of a workplace amputation.

OSHA is currently drafting—and seeking comments–for new guidelines that will provide employers and workers with a sound framework for addressing these types of safety issues in the workplace. Most notably, the agency emphasizes the need for a proactive approach to finding and fixing hazards and better communication and coordination on multi-employer worksites.

The guidelines are not a new standard or regulation and do not create any new legal obligations or alter existing obligations created by OSHA standards or regulations.

Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in FY2015

The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards by Federal OSHA in fiscal year 2015:

  1. Fall protection, construction
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry
  6. Powered industrial trucks, general industry
  7. Ladders, construction
  8. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements
  10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry

OSHA reports that of all the worker fatalities in private industry in 2014, roughly one in five occurred in the construction industry. Obviously, any one of the above violations creates an unsafe working environment, but a combination of hazardous situation only ups the chances of injury. A comprehensive and proactive safety plan is always the best line of defense. For more information, contact our offices at Diversified Safety Services.

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Nina McGinley

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