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Be Safe: The 10 Most Common OSHA Violations

February 14th, 2017

Jobsite Safety

If you’re in business, then you’re familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the standards they enforce to help employers maintain healthful working conditions. Since the early ‘70s, OSHA has helped keep employers and employees safe while at work. Adhering to their guidelines is not only beneficial to the health of your employees, but it can help you avoid potential legal issues due to negligent working conditions.

However, it’s not uncommon to hear about OSHA violations for one reason or another. Whether it’s a forgetful employee or a lack of training, a violation is a violation. Here are the 10 most frequently cited violations in 2015 according to www.osha.gov.

The following are brief overviews of these standards. Always understand and adhere to the full set of OSHA standards that are applicable to your business or employer. Visit www.osha.gov.

1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection (C)

This guideline essentially states the requirements for an employer to provide fall protection systems in the work environment. This includes any number of things on the jobsite such as leading edges, holes, roofs, excavations, overhand bricklaying and more. Many of the specific guidelines call for protective measures like guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, warning line systems and more.

When it comes to working at dangerous heights, oftentimes classified as 6 feet or higher, you must make sure the correct protective measures are taken and employees are trained to work in that environment.

2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication

An OSHA standard that pertains to both chemical manufacturers and companies that utilize chemicals on the job, this is the second most common violation on our list. For most contractor purposes, this standard refers to the communication of information regarding hazardous materials handled on the jobsite by employees.

It’s important to follow these guidelines regarding the training, communications, labeling and more of hazardous materials. While this standard might not resonate on a contracting job as much as those pertaining to falling, electric or other safety, it’s important to adhere to.

3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding (C)

Something that nearly every contractor uses on the jobsite at one point or another is scaffolding. It’s no surprise that it was the third most cited violation in 2015.

There are many regulations pertaining to the type, build, connections, suspensions, load and much more regarding scaffolding. It’s important to protect your employees and yourself with scaffolding and work platforms that are up to par with OSHA guidelines.

4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection

Other items that many, if not all, contractors use on the jobsite at some point are respirators to protect employees from breathing hazardous fumes. If you have employees painting or spraying hazardous materials, cutting or working with materials that emit dust or fumes, or working in any kind of dangerous respiratory area, they need to be supplied an OSHA approved respiratory protective device.

5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout

Safety while maintaining dangerous machinery should always be at the front of your mind, and there are OSHA guidelines in place to make sure it is. Lockout/tagout is a set of procedures that are mandatory on many types of dangerous equipment. Things like exhaust fans, welders/plasma cutters, grinders, lathes and pumps are pieces of equipment you’ll find on a jobsite that may need OSHA lockout/tagout procedures.

6. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks

Another thing nearly all contractors use across the board are work trucks (we know a little something about that). This standard refers to the “safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines.”

So, this standard refers to your work vehicles and applies to things such as the engine type and applicable work environments,  certifications on modifications or additions to the vehicle, and general safety equipment on these vehicles.

7. 1926.1053 – Ladders (C)

You would think ladder safety would be an easy one, wouldn’t you? However, it's the seventh most cited OSHA violation.

There’s a long list of standards a ladder must meet as outlined by OSHA, as well as the ways ladders can be used on the jobsite. The best advice here is to read and understand the OSHA guidelines. Most of all, use your best judgement when using ladders on the jobsite.

8. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods

While this standard applies mainly to electricians, it’s alway important to practice safety when working around electricity. If you’re dealing with electricity, it’s important to closely read these guidelines pertaining to the routing, sheathing, grounding, and overall implementation and safety of electrical wiring. Always follow these OSHA guidelines and your local codes to ensure the safety of your employees and clients.

9. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding

You might think of machine guards as being reserved for big, ground-anchored machines like table saws or lathes, but that’s not always the case. Many tools that contractors use on a daily basis, such as portable power tools and shears, require proper guards to maximize safety.

If you’re using tools like portable saws or grinders, it’s important they have the proper guards in place to add an extra layer of protection from blades, sparks, debris and more.

10. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements

This standard applies to the “examination, installation and use of equipment” pertaining to electricity. In general, it states that electric equipment installed must free from defects and installed in a way that isn’t hazardous to the health of employees.

As an electrical contractor, it’s important to know and adhere to the general requirements outlined here to keep your clients within OSHA guidelines and their employees safe.

How Can You Avoid Them? Do Your Research

While these are the ten most cited OSHA violations, they’re not the only standards you need to know. It’s important to review the official OSHA standards that apply to your industry and workplace in depth to keep your business, employees and customers safe.