Each year OSHA publishes a list of the most-cited violations. This OSHA top 10 aims to bring awareness to the commonly violated standards on worksites and the hazards these violations can cause. It’s also a warning to your workplace; if you’re violating these standards, you’re likely to get caught. It’s good practice to reference this list and make sure you’re not making any violations across the top 10.

For the seventh consecutive year, Fall Protection-General Requirements has ranked No. 1 as the most-cited violation. This standard explains the requirements of employers to provide fall protection on worksites in specific areas and settings. Many worksites fail to have fall protection provided.

OSHA Top 10 Most-Cited Violations for 2017 Fiscal Year

OSHA Top 10

Usually the top 10 violations remain about the same through the years, but this year a new violation ranked in the No.9 position. Fall Protection-Training Requirements has made the top 10 violations with 1,724 violations. This standard requires that any employee exposed to fall hazards must receive fall protection training. With this training, employees will recognize the hazards of falling and know how to minimize those hazards.

Injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace are often preventable. That’s why OSHA stresses the importance of following standards to prevent and protect from hazards. One of the building blocks of preventing hazards is training. Training should never get overlooked in the workplace. Each employee has the right to receive training and each employer has the right to retrain any employee they feel lacks the knowledge and understanding necessary.

But training will only get you so far. Training almost becomes useless if steps aren’t taken to provide and use the correct and safest equipment for a job. With training requirements ranked at No. 9 and general requirements at No. 1, there’s likely much more work needed to ensure fall protection is actually present in the workplace than training. While the duty to provide fall protection keeps failing, the number of fatal falls rises too, remaining the No. 1 reason for death.

Hierarchy of Fall Protection

Fall Protection Hierarchy

The hierarchy of fall protection displays the preferred order of control to reduce fall hazards. Ideally, the best control would be to eliminate exposure to fall hazards therefore a fall could not occur. That is often unattainable. The second best option would be to use passive fall protection. This would include physical barriers such as guardrails around unprotected edges. Passive protection helps prevent contact with the hazard.

As we’ve pointed out in the past, PPE is not a viable first choice when it comes to protecting employees from hazards. This is because PPE is not designed to prevent hazards. Instead it protects employees once they’ve come into contact with the hazard. Fall restraint and fall arrest systems are beneficial to include on a worksite you can’t install passive protection. Finally, it is not recommended to solely use work procedures that increase awareness of hazards in order to eliminate or reduce that hazard.

OSHA addresses recognized hazards in their standards to keep you and your employees safe, healthful and free of fines. Do your part by referencing the OSHA top 10 each year to find and fix these recognized hazards in your workplace before they result in injury or fatality.

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