The workplace can be a dangerous setting – especially if employers or coworkers are negligent. An agency known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing federal workplace safety laws and codes to keep workers safe. They send agents to inspect worksites around the country to search for safety violations. Below are the top five most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in fiscal year 2021.
Fall Protection in Construction
The number one most common safety violation cited by OSHA was fall protection in the construction industry. This has to do with OSHA Standard 1926.501: Safety and Health Regulations for Construction. This rule sets legal requirements for employers to provide workers with adequate fall protection systems. Falls are a top cause of worker death in the U.S. each year, especially in construction.
Protecting workers from serious and fatal falls requires proper training and personal protective equipment. OSHA’s standards require structural integrity for walking surfaces, guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, controlled access zones, covers for any holes, positioning device systems, fences or barricades, and guards for any dangerous equipment. Failing to meet these standards increases the risk of deadly fall accidents in construction.
The second most commonly violated safety code is respiratory protection in the general industry. Standard 1910.134states that in any occupation where workers could potentially breathe air contaminated with harmful substances, including dusts, gases, fumes or vapors, employers must implement effective engineering control measures and/or appropriate respirators. Engineering controls may include enclosure or confinement, ventilation, or the substitution of less harmful substances. If controlling the environment is not possible, employees must be equipped with adequate respirators for their protection.
Ladders in Construction
Like the first safety violation cited, the third also focuses on fall protection in construction. In 2021, OSHA found that a high number of workplaces contained safety issues associated with ladders and stairways. Standard 1926.1053 lists strict requirements that apply to all ladders in the workplace, including self-supporting portable ladders, non-self-supporting portable ladders, fixed ladders, ladder rungs, stepladders and step stools. Ladders with problems or defects put workers at risk of serious fall accidents at work.
Number four on the list of top safety violations is OSHA Standard 1910.1200: the Control of Toxic and Hazardous Substances. Under federal law, employers must communicate all information concerning classified hazards in the workplace to employees; namely, chemicals. Workers should be adequately informed of any chemical hazards in the workplace via proper container labeling, other forms of warning, safety data sheets and employee training. Failing to properly identify and communicate chemical hazards can lead to serious worker injuries, including exposure to toxic substances, respiratory problems, illnesses and chemical burns.
Scaffolding in Construction
The fifth most commonly cited safety violation noted by OSHA involved scaffolding in the construction industry. Scaffolds should be built and constructed safely and correctly in accordance with OSHA Standard 1926.451. Each component of the scaffold should be capable of supporting the required amount of weight without failing or tipping.
Incorrectly constructed or poorly maintained scaffolds can lead to deadly worker falls and dangerous dropped equipment on workers below. Being struck by falling objects is a top cause of death in the construction industry annually. Properly constructed scaffolds and secured tools and building materials can help prevent these serious accidents.
Injured in a Workplace Accident? Contact an Attorney
Although any job and industry can contain hazards, there is a discernible pattern of the construction industry being the most dangerous – and possessing more OSHA safety violations – than other types of jobs in the U.S. If you or a loved one has been injured in a recent construction accident in Las Vegas, find out if you are eligible for financial compensation by contacting Koch & Brim, LLP. Our Las Vegas construction accident lawyers can assist you with a workers’ compensation claim as well as a personal injury lawsuit after a workplace disaster.