Top 10 OSHA Safety Standard Violations: Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Anything and everything can happen on a worksite, yet safety managers must constantly be aware of the dangers—and that can be a very tall order if predictive modeling isn’t incorporated.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts together a list every year of the top 10 most common safety standards violations in workplaces across the country.

If your company is looking to cut down on fines and fees, while improving work safety, then there’s no better place to start than here. Let’s take a look:

Top 10 OSHA standards violations

OSHA usually hands out fines to businesses in the manufacturing, construction and warehousing industries due to the high levels of involvement with physical labor and machinery—forgetting about safety procedures has historically resulted in serious injury or death. Here are the top 10 OSHA safety regulations organizations are most frequently cited for:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolding
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Electrical, wiring methods
  9. Machine guarding
  10. Electrical, general requirements

Key Takeaway: Manufacturing, construction and warehousing still receive the most citations from OSHA.

Citations add up quickly

These citations often carry hefty price tags, as well. Nearly $20 million was paid out by companies in 2013 just for violating the fall protection standard alone—and this doesn’t count workers compensation or lawsuits.

Not only do these violations mean workers are more susceptible to danger on the job, but the money being paid comes directly out of profits and can hurt an organization’s reputation. To throw salt on the wound, OSHA is increasing the cost of these fines by 78 percent starting August 1, 2016. Willful negligence and repeat offenses are becoming much more costly, the former of which saw the average fine go from $70,000 to $124,709.

It’s clear there’s no upside for ignoring OSHA safety regulations. Not only are these costs currently astronomically high, but they’re growing as well. Take NFI Interactive, for example, which was recently fined $276,000 for allegedly firing a driver who rejected orders that would have put him over the federal hours of service rules, according to OHS Online.

Even though most may assume larger companies are more apt to fall victim to these fines due to less oversight, the data suggests otherwise. Businesses with 1 to 19 workers were penalized around $70 million, OHS Online reported, while those with 250 or more paid just $16.2 million in total. This ends up being a major concern, as most homegrown companies don’t have the capacity to pay this off.

Key TakeawayOSHA violations are an even bigger concern for smaller businesses. 

Staying safe with EHS software

“Collecting data on injury reports is crucial to preventing them in the future.”

Those are some intimidating figures. Fortunately, new technologies and tools are making it more affordable and easier than ever for businesses to protect their workers, and avoid these fines in the process. Big data is stirring a revolution in the workplace safety field for its ability to identify key areas of concern within a worksite. EHS software allows safety managers to track historical injury data as a way to create transparency and promote a better safety culture from top to bottom within an organization. Predictive safety methods take this data into account and highlight routine work that could expose workers to these dangers – enabling safety managers to implement effective controls.

An organization can leverage this data as a way to ensure safety procedures in place to prevent these standards violations. Here are a few concrete examples:

  • Fall protection, scaffolding and ladders make up three-quarters of the construction industry “Fatal Four.” Always ensure enough equipment is available for workers.
  • Hazard communication, electrical wiring methods and general requirements are all avoidable through proper signage and periodic training.
  • Respiratory protection and machine guarding are key defenses against fatal illnesses and injuries. Daily check-ins should be required to safeguard against potential accidents.
  • Powered industrial truck violations can be avoided through a clear understanding of high traffic areas, as well as the assurance each driver has the proper training.

Key Takeaway: Data-based insights can and should drive safety strategies.

The business value of EHS software

While the health of workers should always be the main goal in incorporating predictive safety modeling, there’s business value here, as well. EHS software helps companies do both. OSHA reported organizations with environmental, health or safety systems in place can reduce workplace accidents by 20 to 40 percent, which translates to fewer violations and less money paid out for workers’ compensation.

The Bottom LineWhether you’ve been fined for a violation or not, the possibility exists that you will be in the future. So the next time an injury occurs, ask yourself if that injury could have been prevented. If the answer is “yes,” then it may be time to incorporate EHS software into your safety practices.

What has been your experience with managing safety procedures on the OSHA top 10 standards list? Leave a comment below.

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