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Revealed: OSHA’s Top Safety Violations for 2018

Posted by EHS Insight Staff on December 10, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Every year, OSHA shares its top ten safety violations that have resulted in the most workplace citations. As 2018 is drawing to a close, it’s important that companies continue to push safety awareness efforts.

Let’s take a look at what made OSHA’s top ten this year, how it compares to previous years, and what EHS managers and company leaders can do moving forward into 2019 to mitigate their risks.

#1 – Fall Protection (General Safety Requirements)

Ranking number one again this year, fall protection garnered over 7,200 citations. This is actually more than last year, which saw around 6,000 violations. The citations covered a variety of issues, including the failure to guard edges to prevent falls.

#2 – Hazard Communications

Also following a similar path to 2017, hazard communications continue to be an issue. This year, this arena received more than 4,550 citations from OSHA, compared to 4,176 last year. Still, both years show a remarkable drop compared to previous years, where violations have reached over 5,500. This violation is an important one to recognize for EHS departments. A drop in citations year-over-year shows the effectiveness EHS improvement efforts have on their programs.

#3 – Scaffolding Hazards

Just like 2017, scaffolding hazards posed the number three threat to organizations. This year’s number of citations was almost identical to 2017, clocking in at 3,336 violations (3,288 in 2017). The reasons for citations included scaffolding construction, lack of guardrails or fall protection, and employee access to scaffolding surfaces.

#4 – Respiratory Protection

Another repeat from 2017, respiratory protection ranked number four on OSHA’s list of top violations. This year, there were 3,118 incidents, compared to last year’s 3,097. It’s a marginal increase, but nonetheless, it’s a move in the wrong direction. Violations for respiratory protection include the failure to have a written respiratory safety program and failing to conduct medical examinations for workers who wear a respirator.

#5 – Lockout/Tagout Programs

Lockout/tagout safety issues saw 2,991 citations in 2018, compared to last year’s number of 2,877. Both ranked number five on OSHA lists, but like many of the other top violations this year, it seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Many of the lockout/tagout violations stem from not properly training employees on the program and not conducting routine inspections for lockout/tagout procedures.

#6 – Ladder Safety

It’s no surprise that one of the biggest dangers in workplace safety is a mainstay on OSHA’s top ten list of violations. This year, ladder safety issues accounted for 2,812 citations, compared to last year’s numbers of 2,241. Unlike some of the other citations on the list, this year’s number also topped that of 2016, which saw just over 2,600 violations.

It will be interesting to see if there is a direct correlation between the number of OSHA violations in ladder safety to the number of ladder-related accidents or deaths for 2018, and how those numbers stack up to the past couple of years.

#7 – Powered Industrial Trucks

With 2,294 violations in 2018, powered industrial trucks remain a top safety concern for organizations. Last year, this issue also ranked seventh in the top ten, with 2,162 violations (more than 100 fewer issues than this year). One of the biggest causes of violations in this category is training. All forklift drivers must be certified and properly trained to operate a forklift, as well as receive re-evaluation every three years to maintain their certification.

#8 – Fall Protection (Training-Related)

Wait, fall protection issues made the list TWICE? If nothing else, this should indicate how serious fall safety and prevention are in the workplace. There were a reported 1,982 violations in this category this year. Unlike the number one violation that concerned general fall safety, this issue centers on training-related issues. Without proper training programs and enforcement, fall safety and prevention simply aren’t attainable.

#9 – Machine Guarding

Though machine guarding moved from the eighth spot to the ninth this year with 1,972 citations, the number of incidents still increased from last year’s 1,933. This shift is because there was such a drastic increase in fall protection training citations that it displaced the increase in machine guarding violations.

#10 – Eye and Face Protection

Eye and face protection didn’t make last year’s list. This year, there were 1,536 citations issued.

What To Do Next

The increase in almost every category this year over last year shows that health and safety departments have plenty of work to do. EHS is an ongoing effort that must be carefully executed to see the best results. Take this information with you into next year along with the resolution to contribute to decreasing these numbers next year.

Topics: OSHA, Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Compliance, Training Management, Incident Management, Safety Management, Safety Culture

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