Fall Protection Problems Top List Of Most Common OSHA Violations for 2011

The Occupational Safety & Health Reporter™ provides complete news coverage and documentation of federal and state occupational safety and health programs, standards, legislation, regulations, enforcement, and Review Commission decisions.

By Bruce Rolfsen

Problems related to employees falling off scaffolds, roofs, ladders, and other high places were the top violations cited in fiscal 2011, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Federal OSHA inspectors discovered about 17,200 violations of OSHA standards protecting workers from falls, the agency data requested by BNA indicates. Inspectors found 7,035 violations of OSHA's scaffolding standard (29 C.F.R.1926.451); 6,984 violations of the fall prevention standard (29 C.F.R.1926.501); and 3,179 violations of the standard for use of ladders (29 C.F.R.1926.1053).

The data for 2011 is not final, because OSHA has six months to issue citations after an inspection, but agency officials expect the overall rankings to remain largely unchanged as more inspection data are added.

Although OSHA does not have a national emphasis program for fall prevention, eight of OSHA's 10 regions have local or regional emphasis programs for fall prevention at construction sites, and one region has a general industry fall prevention emphasis program.

The high priority OSHA has put on fall protection is also supported by another indicator: The most frequently violated standard subsection is the rule covering residential construction (29 C.F.R. 1926.501 (b)13) with 2,890 write-ups.

The rest of the top 10 most commonly cited violations and the numbers are:

• Hazard communication, 6,533,

• Respiratory protection, 3,932,

• Lockout/tagout, 3,629,

• Electrical, wiring methods, 3,576,

• Powered industrial trucks, 3,436,

• Electrical, general requirements, 2,856,

• Machine guarding, 2,720.

Agency numbers show that the top 10 violated OSHA standards were generally the same in 2011 and 2010 (40 OSHR 870, 10/21/10).

The same 10 standards that top 2010's violation list are in the top 10 of 2011, with some minor shuffling. Violations of the ladder standard dropped from 5th to 8th place.

Willful Violations

There has been a shift among the standards most commonly cited for willful violations, carrying a maximum fine of $70,000 each.

Five of the top 10 standards cited in willful violations for 2011 were not on the list for 2010. New to the list are violations for standards related to grain handling, asbestos, lockout/tagout, excavation/trenching requirements, and recordkeeping. Grain handling, recordkeeping, and process safety management for chemical plants and oil refineries are the focus of ongoing national emphasis programs.

Off the list for willful violations are standards for lead in construction and general industry, electrical requirements in construction, construction safety and training, and scaffolding.

OSHA inspectors usually cite an establishment for a willful violation if they conclude supervisors were aware the problem and failed to take actions to prevent the problem.

The top 10 willfully violated standards and the number of violations are:

• Excavation/trenching protective systems, 84,

• Fall protection, 67,

• Process safety management, 45,

• Grain handling facilities, 42,

• Asbestos, 37,

• Lockout/tagout, 35,

• Machine guarding, 25,

• Specific excavation/trenching requirements, 24,

• General recording criteria, 23,

• General duty cause, 22.

Serious Violations

For serious violations of OSHA standards, which carry a maximum fine of $7,000, the 2011 top 10 list is largely the same as in 2010. Scaffolding, fall protection, and hazard communication are, again, at the head of the list.

The top 10 standards for serious violations and the number of violations are:

• Scaffolding, 6,324,

• Fall protection, 6,022,

• Hazard communication, 3,953,

• Lockout/tagout, 2,926,

• Electrical, wiring methods, 2,835,

• Ladders, 2,787,

• Powered industrial trucks, 2,582,

• Machine guarding, 2,433,

• Respiratory protection, 2,361,

• Electrical, general requirements, 2,198.


Detailed breakdowns of the most frequently violated OSHA standards, including subsections of the standards, are available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=jstn-8ntqfe .