By Melanie Mesaros
Safety committee and safety meeting violations topped the list of the most cited Oregon OSHA standards in 2013, followed by hazard communication and fall protection violations.
"There are aspects of the list that are disappointing," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. "We've had a safety committee rule for more than two decades. We provide resources and training and yet, it's still the No. 1 issue we cite."
Fall protection violations continue to be the top citation for the construction industry, with 431 violations in 2013 that ranged from use of ladders to failure to protect against injury near holes, wall openings, and rooftops. The first-time penalty for a fall violation averaged more than $1,000 (even with a majority of small employers) because of the potential for serious injury or death. Fall violations also account for the most frequent source of repeat violations on the list.
(C) = Construction standard
"There has been some real success when it comes to fall protection, but there hasn't been enough," said Wood. "We need to change the culture that accepts rule violations and occasional penalties. Unfortunately, that culture still exists on some job sites."
Overall, Wood said the list represents a range of issues - some fundamental and some that involve an enforcement of expectations on the part of employers. "These aren't paperwork violations or trivial. They are protective measures that keep people from dying on the job," he said.
Also notable is the fact that the safety committee standard and hazard communication rule, which requires employers to properly label, store, and assess chemical hazards, are designed to help employees better protect themselves. "They are important rules, even though in most cases we don't cite them with a penalty," said Wood.
Wood said the list highlights the need for a multi-faceted approach to safety and health in the workplace. He said Oregon OSHA will continue to cite violations that put workers at the most risk.
"We are going to focus on the things that can not only injure, but kill people," he said.
C = Construction standard
* Note: Federal OSHA does not have a standard that covers safety committee requirements.
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