Most Frequent OSHA Violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency that enforces health and safety regulations in the workplace.
Employers must follow all OSHA regulations and provide employees with a safe workplace and free of hazards.
The good news is that OSHA regulations are working. Worker fatalities in the United States have decreased from about 38 deaths per day in 1970 to 15 a day in 2019. Worker injuries and illnesses have dropped from about 11 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to about three per 100 workers in 2019.
However, when OSHA standards are ignored, the consequences can be devastating.
If you've been seriously injured in a work accident, the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman is ready to help you get back on your feet. Our workers' compensation attorneys will help you obtain the lost wages and medical benefits you're entitled to get under Massachusetts laws. After evaluating your claim, our workers' compensation attorneys will determine if an OSHA violation caused your injury and if there are any other parties liable for your accident.
Our law firm will work to make sure that you receive full and fair compensation and that all responsible parties are held accountable for their negligence.The Most Frequent OSHA Violations Often Involve Construction and Industrial Accidents
OSHA violations are most likely to affect construction workers and general industry workers. The agency uses the term “general industry” to refer to all industries except for agriculture, construction, or maritime.
Here's a look at the most frequently cited OSHA violations in the fiscal year 2019:
- Fall protection (construction): Employers are obligated to set up a worksite in a way that protects employees from falling off of elevated work stations or into holes. This includes ensuring that floors are kept clean and dry, workers are provided with personal protective equipment, and workers are trained about job dangers in a language they understand. Falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites.
- Hazard communication (general industry): Employers who have dangerous chemicals at their worksites must have labels and safety data sheets and train workers to handle these toxic substances safely. For example, acids, disinfectants, heavy metals, and pesticides can cause serious injury to workers when they are mishandled.
- Scaffolding (construction): OSHA has requirements that pertain to all types of scaffolds, including supported scaffolds, suspended scaffolds, scissor lifts, and aerial lifts. Individuals who work on scaffolds are at risk of fall injuries, especially when they lack adequate fall protection. Other hazards include collapse caused by instability or overloading, being hit by falling tools or materials, and electrocution caused by contact with overhead power lines.
- Control of hazardous energy (general industry): Workers often encounter various energy sources in machines and other equipment, including electrical, mechanical, chemical, and thermal energy. An unexpected startup or energy release can cause serious injury or even death to workers who are servicing or performing maintenance tasks on equipment. Workers should be trained on proper lockout/tagout procedures to prevent these types of accidents from happening.
- Respiratory protection (general industry): Respirators protect workers from various on-the-job hazards, including dust, smoke, gases, and environments with insufficient oxygen. When unprotected, workers are at risk of developing cancer, damaging their lungs, and contracting various diseases. Certain respirators remove contaminants from the air while others provide clean air from another source. Employers are required to provide their employees with appropriate respiratory equipment and training on proper use.
- Ladders (construction): OSHA has numerous standards that pertain to ladder safety, including acceptable loads, angle of use, and rung spacing. Common hazards include overloading ladders, damaged ladders, and placement of ladders on unstable surfaces. Ladders should be placed at a distance from electrical wiring and equipment to prevent electrical shock and electrocution.
- Powered industrial trucks, also known as forklifts or lift trucks (general industry): Forklifts used in retail establishments and many other industries to move goods and materials present various operating hazards. For example, forklifts can be driven off a dock or be involved in a falling load accident. A forklift can strike a nearby worker and cause serious injury. Operators must be over 18 years of age and must be properly trained and certified.
- Fall protection training: Workers should not only be trained on how to use fall protection equipment, but they should know how to inspect equipment for any defects.
- Machinery and machine guarding: Machine guards protect workers from amputations, burns, blindness, and other serious injuries. Guards should never be removed, altered, or circumvented. OSHA has standards for machine guarding hazards in construction, agriculture, and other industries.
- Eye and Face Protection: Work-related eye injuries, including blindness, can be prevented with the proper use of goggles and other eye protection. Employers are required to provide eye and face protection when such safety equipment is needed to protect workers from chemical, environmental, mechanical, and other hazards.
OSHA violations range from relatively minor to serious. Employers that commit OSHA violations may be on the hook for costly fines. The fines can range from $13,653 for a serious violation to $136,532 for a willful violation. You can read more about OSHA penalties here.
Workers have a right to report on-the-job dangers without fear of retaliation.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury because of hazardous conditions at your workplace, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman LLC today at (617) 367-2900 or via our electronic form.