Workplace safety. We talk about it all the time, and we do this because of how important the matter really is. The number one reason workplace safety policies and guidelines are so important is, of course, that they help protect the well-being of the people going to and from their jobs every day. In addition to this, they help make a company stronger overall. Finally, with a range of federal organizations helping to craft laws that define at least a minimum level of safety adherence, ignoring the importance of safety policies and regulations is simply asking for more trouble than its worth.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, which has helped identify and establish basic health and safety needs for workers in a range of industries since 1971, has also taken steps to help companies improve safety across the nation. One such step is the yearly publication of a Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards that runs from fiscal year to fiscal year. According to OSHA’s website, “The following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA. OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up. Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace.”
Yet while the list specifically exists to help companies recognize where they’re most likely to fall short on their safety needs, as of last year the number of safety violations issued by OSHA were on the rise. In fact 2013 saw a 45% increase in citations as compared to 2012. And while the different items on the list are more common than others from year to year, for the last few years the list has changed very little.
The release of the 2013 violations list is now almost a year behind us. And with the current fiscal year coming to a close soon, we can expect a new Top 10 OSHA Violations list to come out in the coming month or two. With a new list coming soon, we have a couple of questions that we can’t wait to have answered about 2014’s top safety issues:
1) Will the new list see any change in the list of top violations? For the past few years OSHA’s top violation lists have consistently included the following (though the order of these violations has shifted from time to time):
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Electrical: wiring
- Powered industrial trucks
- Electrical: systems design
- Machine guarding
2) Will we see a decrease in the number of violations during 2014? After a comparatively better year in 2012, last year’s spike in violations was a disappointment to safety experts and activists alike. And if this year’s numbers remain the same or even increase, then that’s a strong indicator that we as a nation need to invest time and energy into researching the common causes of these ongoing violations. Economics, mindsets and a range of other things can all factor into how safe a company keeps its workers; our job, then, is to find out what areas we can control and improve.
Whatever the results of 2014’s top violations list may be, nothing will change the fact that managers, supervisors and other employees in positions of power must all take their roles very seriously. After all, they’re the ones responsible for preventing basic violations and for creating a safe, efficient and effective work environment. It’s ultimately through their efforts – not just OSHA’s fines and regulations – that we as a nation will begin to create safer work spaces for all of our valued employees.
Want to learn more about the specifics behind the most common OSHA violations? Then we highly recommend reading smartblogs.com’s post titled, “Workplace safety: Avoiding common OSHA violations.”
Have any additional thoughts or questions that you want us to hear? Then just let us know in the comments!