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Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards

When it comes to OSHA targeting American workplaces for safety violations, the construction industry topped the charts in fiscal 2002--and for very good reason.

Construction again had the largest number of fatal work injuries of any industry in America, and that number is rising. On average, nearly 24 construction workers were killed on the job each week in the United States last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of construction workers killed in 2001--1,225--was up 6 percent over 2000.

The list, published annually in Safety + Health, covers fiscal year 2002, which ran from October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002.

  1. 1926.451 Scaffolding/Construction--7,953 violations--This standard covers the general safety requirements for the construction, maintenance and use of scaffolding. Basically, employers must protect construction workers from falls and from falling objects while working on or near scaffolding at heights of 10 feet or more. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to provide fall protection; (2) failure to provide proper access; (3) failure to ensure adequate platform construction; (4) lack of personal fall arrest or guardrail systems; (5) failure to properly support scaffolding.
  2. 1910.1200 Hazard Communication--6,702 violations--This standard addresses the hazards of chemicals, both those chemicals produced in the workplace and those imported into the workplace. It also governs the communication of those hazards to workers. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to develop and maintain a written program; (2) failure to maintain training; (3) lack of employee training; (4) failure to have a MSDS for each hazardous chemical; (5) failure to label each container.
  3. 1926.501 Fall Protection/Construction--5,118 violations--This standard tells workers and employers where fall protection is required; which fall protection systems are appropriate for given situations; the proper construction and installation of safety systems, and the proper supervision of employees to prevent falls. It is designed to protect construction personnel working above 6 feet. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to use a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system; (2) failure to provide protection/residential construction; (3) failure to provide protection/low-slope roofs; (4) failure to provide protection/steep roofs; (5) failure to provide protection/wall openings.
  4. 1910.134 Respiratory Protection--4,075 violations--This standard directs employers to establish or maintain a respiratory protection program to protect employees. The standard contains requirements for program administration; worksite-specific procedures; respirator selection; employee training; fit testing; medical evaluation; respirator use; and respirator cleaning, maintenance and repair. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to establish and implement written program; (2) failure to conduct medical evaluation; (3) failure to provide Appendix D when voluntary use deemed permissible; (4) failure to fit-test; (5) failure to ensure employees can demonstrate knowledge.
  5. 1910.147 Lockout/Tagout--3,796 violations--This standard lays out the minimum performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy during the maintenance and servicing of machinery. The standard requires that lockout be used for equipment designed with a lockout capability. Lockout/tagout procedures should be followed during maintenance or repair operations to ensure that power sources are locked in the "off" position and clearly marked with a tag so other workers will not turn on a machine by mistake. The standard also contains criteria for establishing an effective program for locking out devices. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to establish program; (2) failure to develop procedures for energy control; (3) lack of employee training; (4) failure to conduct periodic inspections; (5) inadequate procedures.
  6. 1910.305 Electrical Wiring--3,106 violations--This standard covers the grounding of electrical equipment, wiring and insulation. It includes temporary wiring and splicing, components such as lighting fixtures and switches, and equipment such as flexible cords and cables.
  7. 1910.212 Machine Guarding--2,747 violations--This standard covers the general safety requirements for how and when to use machine guards. Basically, employers must place guards over or in front of a machine's moving parts to protect workers. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to provide machine guarding; (2) failure to guard point-of-operation; (3) failure to anchor fixed machinery; (4) failure to guard exposed blades; (5) failure to affix guards.
  8. 1910.178 Powered Industrial Trucks--2,421 violations--This standard covers the design, maintenance and operation of all kinds of powered industrial trucks, from forklifts to motorized hand trucks. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to ensure operator competency; (2) lack of operator certification; (3) failure to remove unsafe trucks from operation; (4) lack of operator training; (5) failure to inspect trucks.
  9. 1910.303 Electrical Systems--2,219 violations--This standard covers the general safety requirements for designing electrical systems. Top 5 sections cited: (1) failure to guard electrical equipment; (2) failure to identify disconnecting means and circuits; (3) failure to install and use electrical equipment according to factory instructions; (4) use of electrical equipment containing recognized hazards; (5) failure to keep work spaces clear.
  10. 1910.219 Mechanical Power--2,026 violations--This standard calls for the proper guarding of components such as gears, chains, belts, pulleys and drive shafts so that workers do not become caught in the transmission devices.