How to Reduce OSHA Violations in Your Workplace — The Easy Way
Editor’s note: This article was updated November, 2019 with the most recent stats released by OSHA for the 2019 fiscal year.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a US government organization created by congress in 1970 to protect the safety and health of US workers. While keeping your workers safe and healthy may be your top priority, and essential to the health of your business, avoiding OSHA violations can be tricky.
The mission of OSHA is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance, ” according to the agency’s website. Setting standards means setting rules and regulations. Penalties for OSHA violations can mean hefty fines and in some cases imprisonment.
Avoiding OSHA violations is one of the best ways to protect your workers and your bottom line. The good news is, there are a couple easy and affordable tools to help you immediately start reducing some of the most common OSHA violations.
What are the Most Common OSHA Violations?
Each year OSHA releases a new list of the top ten safety and health violations for the fiscal year. You may be surprised to learn the most common OSHA violations in the last decade haven’t actually changed much from year to year.
Over the last decade, the most common OSHA violations have been in the areas of fall protection, hazard communication (HazCom), scaffolding and respiratory protection. Fall protection and scaffolding violations are more likely to be encountered in construction fields. HazCom and respiratory protection violations occur in cases where workers are exposed to toxic and hazardous substances.
Top 10 OSHA Violations in 2019
1) Fall Protection, Construction
Standard 1926.501 OSHA Violation: Employers failed to protect workers from falling off platforms, elevated workstations and/or into holes in the floor and walls. Safety regulations range from hole covers, guard rails and toe boards to safety harnesses, lines and nets.
2) Hazard Communication Standard, General Industry
Standard 1910.1200 OSHA Violation: Failure to communicate to employees the risks posed by exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace. HazCom safety standards not only require a written program and training, but also the proper use of safety data sheets and labels aligned with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for hazardous chemicals produced, imported or used in the workplace.
3) Scaffolding, General Requirements, Construction
Standard 1926.451 OSHA Violation: Employers failed to provide proper structure and/or support for employees working on or near scaffolding. Scaffolding safety measures include weight support minimums, tipping resistance and proper scaffold platform construction by qualified individuals.
4) Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), General Industry
Standard 1910.147 OSHA Violation: Failure to protect employees from unexpected start up or release of energy while servicing and maintaining machines and equipment. Work with steam valves, jammed conveyor belts and electrical wiring are common situations which require lockout/tagout safety procedures.
5) Respiratory Protection, General Industry
Standard 1910.134 OSHA Violation: Failure to protect workers from breathing contaminated air. First and foremost, employers should strive to prevent contamination of atmosphere. When atmosphere protection is not attainable, employers must provide, maintain and require air-purifying respirators for each employee.
6) Ladders, Construction
Standard 1926.1053 OSHA Violation: Employers failed to provide ladders which passed minimum weight requirements, rung and step standards, anti-slippage standards, proper material construction and/or placement and clearance of ladders in the workplace. Safety precautions include using ladders which meet OSHA requirements and educating employees on proper ladder-climbing techniques.
7) Powered Industrial Trucks, General Industry
Standard 1910.178 OSHA Violation: Powered industrial trucks did not meet design and construction requirements for fire safety, and/or were not properly labeled reflecting approval testing status. Safety guidelines for powered industrial trucks include testing by a nationally recognized testing laboratory using nationally recognized standards, and proper maintenance of labels indicating approval.
8) Fall Protection— Training Requirements
Standard 1926.503 OSHA Violation: Employers failed to provide a training program to teach employees to recognize fall hazards and what to do to minimize them. Safety measures include instituting fall-protection training programs and/or maintaining and updating certification records.
9) Machinery and Machine Guarding, General Requirements
Standard: 1926.212 OSHA Violation: Failure to protect employees operating machines or working in machine areas, from hazards such as nip points, flying chips, and sparks. Protection methods can include various precautions such as barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices and electronic safety devices.
10) Eye and Face Protection
Standard 1926.102 OSHA Violation: Employers failed to provide and/or enforce the use of adequate physical protection for eyes and face. Employees must wear proper eye and face protection when working with or near hazards that can fly into the face or eyes. Hazardous situations can include flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids, chemical gases and even potentially injurious light radiation.
The Easiest OSHA Violations to Avoid
Four or five years ago, creating OSHA-compliant labels and safety signs that could stand up to heavy-duty work spaces would have been a costly, complicated ordeal. While HazCom violations still rank number two on OSHA’s top ten list, new innovations in labeling, printing and software technology have made these types of OSHA violations quick and easy to remedy (or avoid altogether).
OSHA-compliant labels and signage have come a long way in terms of accessibility to not only large, but small businesses as well. Printing your own durable GHS chemical labels and safety signs is easier and more affordable than ever before with extensive online resources available just for industrial users.
How Much Can OSHA Violations Cost Your Business?
Penalties for OSHA violations are no laughing matter. A single serious infraction can cost your business $13,260 per violation. Fail to remedy the violation? You’re looking at up to $13,260 each day you fail to abate. Repeat the violation and your penalty fine can jump to $132,598.
…and that’s per violation, meaning you can multiply all the above figures for, say each chemical bottle/container mislabeled in your warehouse. Even for the largest companies in the US, six figures is not a sum to sneeze at, but if you own a small or medium business, repeated OSHA violations could cost you everything.
Easy HazCom Violation Solutions
The best way to avoid Hazcom related OSHA violations is to make sure your labels and signs are up to date and in good condition. Using OSHA-compliant templates to create your own GHS chemical labels and safety signs is a great way to save time and money.
When creating your own GHS chemical labels and safety signs, the materials you use are crucial. Poor-quality printed materials can result in an OSHA violation for damaged or missing labels and signage. No one wants to deal with a suddenly missing or damaged label on inspection day.
OSHA-Compliant GHS Chemical Labels
Choose reliable GHS chemical labels that are waterproof and resistant to chemicals, UV, abrasions and extreme temperatures. If you’re shipping chemicals, your GHS labels must also be BS5609 Section 2 certified (which means the label stays put for at least ninety days in seawater) and BS5609 Section 3 certified with approved printers (which means the ink stays put on the label by passing an abrasion test required for overseas shipping).
Durable Industrial-Grade Safety Signs
When it comes to safety signs and avoiding OSHA violations, it often comes down to a choice between two unpopular options. Either wait for preprinted signs to arrive or try cheap DIY solutions that cost time and money to regularly replace.
Industrial-grade clean-removal adhesive sign labels solve both problems. Look for durable printable polyester sign labels engineered to stick and stay put on a variety of surfaces, yet remove cleanly, leaving no residue behind. This allows you to place safety signs exactly where you need them for, even if you’re renting space or equipment.
Look for water, chemical, abrasion and tear-resistant sign labels that stick well on drywall, doors, glass and stainless steel. Ensuring your safety signage is up to date, properly placed and well-maintained can help you avoid OSHA violations and keep your workers safe.