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Fall Hazards Again Top OSHA’s Violations List

Friday, October 15, 2010

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Scaffolding, fall protection and ladder violations claimed three of the top five spots on OSHA’s list of violations in 2010—a record that has stubbornly persisted for years, officials said.

For the third straight year, scaffolding violations led the list of Top 10 Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations for 2010.

Fall protection ranked second, for the second straight year. Ladder violations, which had taken the No. 9 and 8 spots the last two years, jumped to No. 5 this year. In all, the three fall-related categories accounted for 19,750—about 21%—of OSHA’s approximately 94,000 citations this year.

Little Change Seen

Also for the second year in a row, Hazard Communications ranked third on the list, with 6,633 citations; Respiratory Protection placed fourth, with 3,932.

The rest of the Top 10 violations were, in order, for Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), Electrical (Wiring Methods), Powered Industrial Trucks, Electrical (General), and Machine Guarding.

Overall, it was a grimly familiar list that accounted for nearly half of the year’s total OSHA citations, Thomas Galassi, OSHA’s directorate of enforcement programs, said in a recent presentation to the National Safety Council.

“There is a close similarity between the top 10 from last year and this year,” Galassi said.

Falls Decline

There was some good news. The number of scaffolding violations declined to 8,371 this year from 9,093 in 2009. Ironically, OSHA took little credit for the decrease, however, saying it was more likely due to the bad economy, with fewer people working, than to safer working environments.

“This impact may be attributed to the general decrease in construction employment as well as the decrease in particular segments, residential construction for instance, where scaffold use has been prevalent,” an OSHA spokeswoman said.

Still, the agency reserved some criticism for employers. “While the industry has seen many technological advances in fall protection, OSHA has seen only a portion of construction employers adopt the technology and programs necessary to reduce the huge number of construction-related fall fatalities,” the spokeswoman said.

“The agency recognizes the employers who have implemented the new technology and nearly eliminated fall fatalities on their projects. We will continue to cite employers who violate OSHA's construction fall protection requirements through aggressive use of all the enforcement tools available to the agency.”

Falls still remain the leading cause of death in construction-related industries, and several deadly scaffolding accidents have drawn national interest.

These include the deaths of four Toronto workers, and severe injury of a fifth, when their scaffolding broke as they repaired concrete outside a high-rise on Christmas Eve. Last week, two industrial painters inside a water storage tank in Hollywood, FL, fell 30 feet when their scaffolding broke. One suffered a spinal cord injury; the other, a broken leg.

Other Violations

Hazard Communication, once the most-cited violation, accounted for 6,633 total violations in 2010. These include improper labeling and safety sheets for hazardous chemicals by manufacturers and importers.

Respiratory Protection was ranked fourth, with 3,932 violations. About five million workers lack respirators to protect them from dust, vapors and other hazards, Galassi said.

Top 10 Most Cited Standards

2010 2009 2008
Scaffolding Scaffolding Scaffolding
Fall Protection Fall Protection Hazard Communications
Hazard Communications Hazard Communications Fall Protection
Respiratory Protection Respiratory Protection Respiratory Protection
Ladders Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout)
Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) Electrical – Wiring Methods Electrical – Wiring Methods
Electrical (wiring methods) Powered Industrial Trucks Powered Industrial Trucks
Powered Industrial Trucks Machine Guarding Ladders
Electrical (general) Ladders Machine Guarding
Machine Guarding Electrical – General Electrical – General

Source: OSHA


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Health and safety; Ladders; OSHA; Scaffolding; Violations

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