Every year, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) publishes the top 10 most often cited safety violations. It’s an interesting list, but it barely changes year over year. In fact, the violations themselves don’t change at all, though their positions in the list may change slightly.
So in itself, the list is not too interesting. What is more interesting, is to take a look at the top cited violations for a specific industry. So let us dive into last year’s OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations for the construction industry.
But before we do that, let’s first take a look at the overall (not sector-specific) list of top cited violations. In 2016, this resulted in the following top 10:
- Fall Protection (6,906 violations)
- Hazard Communication (5,655 violations)
- Scaffolding (4,681 violations)
- Respiratory Protection (3,573 violations)
- Lockout/Tagout (3,406 violations)
- Powered Industrial Trucks (2,855 violations)
- Ladders (2,625 violations)
- Machine Guarding (2,448 violations)
- Electrical Wiring (1,937 violations)
- Electrical General Requirements (1,704 violations)
Note that these top 10’s only cite general violations, but they still give a good idea of the most difficult standards for companies to adhere to.
The Top 10 Most Cited Violations for the Construction Industry
Let’s compare the list above with the top cited violations for the construction industry, which we found at Construct Connect. Note that this list also includes the title (after the hyphen) of the specific standard that was violated.
- Fall Protection – Duty to have fall protection(5,590 violations)
- Scaffolding – General requirements(3,102 violations)
- Ladders – Ladders(2,091 violations)
- Fall Protection – Eye and face protection(1,239 violations)
- Personal and Protective Life Saving Equipment – Eye and face protection(1,180 violations)
- Toxic and Hazardous Substances – Hazard Communication(739 violations)
- General Safety and Health Provisions – General safety and health provisions(737 violations)
- Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Head protection(736 violations)
- Scaffolding – Aerial lifts(732 violations)
- Fall Protection – Fall protection systems criteria and practices(590 violations)
Comparing the two lists, there are two things that stand out.
First, as you might expect, some of the top cited violations in the construction industry are not mentioned in the ‘global’ top 10. In particular, I’m talking about:
- Personal Protective & Lifesaving Equipment(eye and face protection, head protection)
- Toxic & Hazardous Substances (hazard communication)
- General Safety & Health Provisions (general safety & health provisions)
Apparently, these violations are less common in other industries, and that makes sense. Protective equipment and communication about health and hazards is incredibly important in the construction industry. So it’s understandable that these are also the most often cited violations in this industry – and it makes sense that this might be different in other sectors.
It’s all the construction industry’s fault
Second, if you look at both lists into more detail (like we did), you quickly learn that the construction industry is responsible for a large part of the top 10 cited violations.
For instance, there have been more than 6,000 cases of fall protection violations in the construction industry in 2016. Compare this to the overall number of fall protection violations (#1 in OSHA’s ‘general’ list with 6,906 violations), and you quickly come to a conclusion. More than 90% of all fall protection violations occurred within the construction industry!
And the same goes for e.g. violations involving scaffolding (3,102 cases out of 4,681) and ladders (2,091 cases out of 2,625). In short, the construction industry is responsible for a significant part of OSHA’s yearly top 10 list of violations.
Coming to terms with this discovery
But what does that mean, exactly? Well, to many of you, this discovery won’t come as a big surprise.
As a construction professional, you probably know that OSHA inspections target the construction sector more often than many other industries. That is because OSHA “seeks to focus its inspection resources on the most hazardous workplaces“. And construction is simply an industry with many high-risk jobs and activities.
So the fact that the construction industry is responsible for many of the top cited OSHA violations is in itself not an issue. In contrast, it is great that OSHA inspections focus on hazardous workplaces. Because in the end, they ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in a construction project.
In a few months, OSHA will publish its top 10 list of cited violations for 2017. The list will probably look more or less the same as last year, and so will the top violations for the construction industry. But until then, take a look at the lists above, and make sure your worksite and construction projects are safe and sound.
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