You have probably seen the annual lists of top OSHA violations. The lists typically rank the violations, starting with the “most violated” rule. This list starts with Oregon OSHA’s 25 most-violated rules for 2017, then factors in each rule’s percentage of serious violations – including repeat and willful – and the average penalty per violation.
The result is a list that describes 15 categories of frequently violated safety and health rules – equally weighted by percentage of serious violations and average penalty per violation.
Fall protection (construction)
Division 3, Subdivision M
437-003-1501(1), Fall protection
437-003-0503(2), Certification of fall-protection training
437-003-0503(1), Fall protection training program
It should come as no surprise to see fall protection at the top of the list because falls are a leading cause of construction-related injuries. Of the three top 25 fall protection violations in this category, Oregon OSHA’s general fall protection rule, 437-003-1501(1), requires fall protection for workers who work at heights of six feet or higher. Citations for this rule carry high penalties because most falls kill workers or leave them seriously injured. And one out of four violations are repeat offenses – a percentage three times higher than repeat offenses in any other frequently violated rule.
Employers could also reduce their chance of receiving a citation by ensuring their employees are trained by a competent person and that their training has been documented with the employee’s name, the training date, and the trainer’s name.
Rules for all workplaces
437-001-0760(1), Employers’ responsibilities
Employers are ultimately responsible for properly supervising and training their employees, and ensuring that they work in a “safe and healthful manner.” Controlling hazards, investigating lost-time injuries, ensuring regular workplace inspections, and reporting fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations to Oregon OSHA are also part of those responsibilities. Nearly all violations of 437-001-0760(1) are serious and carry high penalties.
Division 3, Subdivision X
1926.1053(b), Requirements for use of ladders
More workers are injured in falls from ladders than from any other elevated surface – roofs, scaffolds, balconies, and even stairs. Most falls happen because workers select the wrong type of ladder for their job or they improperly set up the ladder and the ladder shifts, slips, or tips over. Although 1926.1053(b) applies to construction work, its requirements should be considered essential safe practices for anyone who needs to use a portable ladder. Nearly all violations of 1926.1053(b) are serious.
General requirements for all machines
Division 2, Subdivision O
1910.212(a), Machine guarding
Most machines do not discriminate between people and widgets – the task is all that matters. That can be a problem when a machine has unguarded moving parts and the worker inadvertently gets too close. Much of the danger occurs at the point of operation, where the work is performed and where the machine cuts, shears, punches, bends, or drills.
This rule sets the requirements for point-of-operation guards and for fan blades and revolving barrels, containers, and drums. Although there are fewer machine guarding violations than other frequently violated rules, the average penalty is higher than any other rule violation – including fall protection.
Control of hazardous energy
Division 2, Subdivision J
1910.147(c), Control of hazardous energy – general requirements
Most accidents that involve hazardous energy happen when workers release that energy on themselves or an unsuspecting co-worker. Energy exists in many forms, all of which are associated with motion – and it is motion that makes energy hazardous.
Employers must have an energy control program if their employees do service or maintenance work on machines that could start unexpectedly. The program must include energy control procedures, employee training, and periodic inspections to ensure that employees who do service and maintenance work understand energy control procedures and know how to apply them. This rule describes those requirements.
Division 2, Subdivision Z
1910.1200(e), Written hazard communication program
1910.1200(h), Employee information and training
1910.1200(g), Material safety data sheets
1910.1200(f), Labels and other forms of warning
Written hazard communication program, 1910.1200(e), has been Oregon OSHA’s most violated safety and health rule every year since 2008. Two other hazard communication rules have also remained among Oregon OSHA’s 10 most violated rules list since 2008: Material safety data sheets, 1910.1200(g), and Employee information and training, 1910.1200(h). A relative newcomer to the list is Labels and other forms of warning, 1910.1200(f).
Together, violations of these four requirements of the hazard communication standard account for nearly 30 percent of all frequently violated rules.
Division 2, Subdivision Z
1910.1030(c), Bloodborne pathogens – exposure control requirements
Oregon employers whose employees are exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials are covered by 1910.1030, Bloodborne pathogens. The exposure control requirements in 1910.1030(c) include a written exposure control plan to identify and protect employees who may be exposed to blood and other potentially infectious material. The plan must be reviewed and updated annually or whenever new tasks and procedures affect employees’ occupational exposure.
Personal protective equipment
Division 2, Subdivision I
437-002-0134(1), Requirements for hazard assessment and equipment selection
A hazard assessment is an evaluation of your workplace that helps you determine what hazards your employees are exposed to and what personal protective equipment they need to protect themselves. If you are a general industry, construction, or agricultural employer, you must do a hazard assessment to determine if your workplace has hazards that you cannot control without personal protective equipment.
Division 2, Subdivision I
1910.134(c), Respiratory protection program
1910.134(e), Medical evaluation
You can’t just hand out respirators and expect your employees to use them properly. If respirators are necessary to protect your employees, you must have a written program that describes how they will be used. You can find the requirements for the program in 1910.134(c). Before employees use respirators, they must have confidential medical evaluations to ensure that their safety or health will not be at risk. A physician or other licensed health care professional must do the evaluation at no cost to the employee. Those requirements are in 1910.134(e).
Medical services and first aid
Division 2, Subdivision K
437-002-0161(5), Emergency eyewash and shower facilities
The first 10 seconds after exposure to a hazardous substance can be critical. Delaying treatment, even for a few seconds, may cause serious injury. Emergency eyewash stations allow workers to quickly flush away accidental chemical exposures. Using an eyewash station is considered a first-aid measure; the requirements are in 437-002-0161(5). Be sure to do a hazard assessment to determine the hazards associated with chemicals in your workplace and how the eyewash station will be used in an emergency.
Abrasive wheel machinery
Division 2, Subdivision O
1910.215(a), Abrasive wheel machinery - general requirements
Machines that use abrasive wheels are powerful and most operate at high speeds. If a grinding wheel shatters while it is turning, the fragments from the wheel assembly (including the flange, spindle end, and nut) can travel at more than 300 miles per hour. 1910.215(a) covers the requirements for guarding, guard design, flanges, and work rests. Every violation of 1910.215(a) in 2017 was serious.
Powered industrial trucks
Division 2, Subdivision N
1910.178(l), Operator training
Forklift operators must have classroom instruction, hands-on training, and an evaluation to determine their competency. The evaluation must take place in the workplace so the trainer can observe the operator performing typical tasks in the operator’s environment. Someone other than the employer can do the training and the evaluation; however, training out of the workplace must be supplemented with on-site training that covers site-specific hazards and tasks the operator will be performing. Employers must certify that each operator has been trained and evaluated. The certification must include the operator’s name, the trainer’s name, and the training and evaluation dates. 1910.178(l) covers these requirements.
Safety committees and safety meetings
437-001-0765(1), Safety committees or safety meetings
437-001-0765(13), Documentation of safety committee meetings
437-001-0765(11), Frequency of safety meetings dependent on type of work done
437-001-0765(4), Requirements for members of safety committees
Does your workplace have a safety committee or hold safety meetings? No? Are you sure that your workplace does not need one? You might want to check the requirements in 437-001-0765(1).
Is someone taking minutes at your safety meetings? If your employees do construction, utility work, or manufacturing, you must keep minutes of all your safety meetings for three years. Find out if the requirements apply to your workplace in 437-1-765(13).
Is your workplace holding safety meetings at the proper intervals? You can have quarterly meetings if your employees do mostly office work. Monthly meetings are required for most other businesses. How often should your employees meet? The requirements are in 437-001-0765(11).
Have the members of your safety committee been trained in the principles of accident investigation and hazard identification? No? Check the requirements in 437-001-0765(4).
Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
Division 2, Subdivision S
1910.305(g), Wiring requirements for flexible cords and cables
1910.305(b), Wiring requirements for cabinets, boxes, and fittings
Flexible cords and cables are used to connect electrical equipment to a power source. Flexible cords may have an electrical plug that connects to a power source or they may be permanently wired into a power source. Extension cords (cord sets), cables, and electrical cords are types of flexible cords. 1910.305(g) sets the requirements for using flexible cords and cables. 1910.305(b) sets the requirements for conductors entering boxes, cabinets, or fittings.
Portable fire extinguishers
Division 2, Subdivision L
437-002-0187(2), Inspection and maintenance
How will your employees respond to fire-related emergencies? Will they evacuate or will they use portable fire extinguishers to fight fires? Oregon OSHA’s portable fire extinguisher rule – 437-002-0187 – applies to businesses that have portable fire extinguishers. 437-002-0187(2) covers the inspection and maintenance requirements.
What are the top violations in your industry?
You can get current lists of Oregon OSHA’s top 25 violations in your own industry with the Oregon OSHA top violations report. The report lets you to search for the most-violated rules by calendar year and by NAICS codes or by industry groups such as construction and manufacturing. The report is on the Department of Consumer and Business Services Worker protection reports page.