At the end of September, OSHA announced the preliminary top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for 2017 at the NSC Congress & Expo. The final report is published in the December edition of the NSC’s Safety+Health magazine.
The most cited violations should not come as a surprise to anyone—in fact, the top 3 have been the same violations since 2008 (they’ve also maintained the same order since 2011).
- Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501)
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
- Scaffolding (1926.451)
Number four and five have kept the same rank for the past three years.
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)
Number six, seven and eight have gone up and down the ladder, so to speak, in terms of their order but all three have consistently ranked in the top ten since 2008.
- Ladders (1926.1053)
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)
- Machine Guarding (1910.212)
There is one new entry to the list this year with Fall Protection – Training Requirements appearing in the number nine spot, bumping Electrical – General Requirements from the top 10 for the first time in over fifteen years.
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503)
Despite general electrical citations falling off the list, electrical is still an ongoing issue as wiring methods appear in the last spot on the list.
- Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305)
Training is a common corrective action for these violations, but compliance training alone is rarely going to solve any of the issues on this list (except, of course, citations for not meeting fall protection training requirements). Most people know the appropriate safety steps they should take on the job site but they’ve become complacent to the risks.
In his article, Complacency Deserves a Place on OSHA’s Top 10, Ray Prest outlines why meeting compliance requirements are unlikely to be enough to prevent people from getting hurt:
It’s not like injuries that occur at OSHA-compliant worksites are only occasional “freak” accidents, either. The fact is that injuries, big or small, are difficult to prevent with compliance alone as they are largely the result of worker actions—usually fuelled by complacency and other human factors like rushing, frustration, and fatigue—that lead to inattention and unintentional errors.
OSHA should be lauded for drawing attention to prevalent concerns in American workplaces. But the fact that the list is a near copy/paste from last year’s list (and the year before that) should show that publicizing the problem isn’t enough. And as commentators like Ray Prest point out, avoiding violations isn’t going to solve the problem either.