Falls Remain Biggest Workplace Safety Hazard

In 2012, fall protection was the most frequently cited violation in the United States with more than 7,250 citations.  In fact, fall protection frequently features as one of the top 3 most frequently cited violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Last year, fall protection was the 2nd most frequently cited violation.

Following fall protection in the number of violations in 2012 was hazard communication.  Employers are required to implement a written hazard communication program in the workplace, ensure that all containers that contain hazardous chemicals are properly labeled and that employees are given access to material safety data sheets.  Employees who are at a potential exposure risk must be given special training.  Failure to implement such hazard communication programs resulted in 4,696 citations in 2012.

The 3rd most frequently cited violation of 2012 was scaffolding, accounting for 3,814 violations.  Every day, thousands of workers climb on scaffolding that is erected hundreds of meters away from the ground on construction sites.  When these workers have no access to safety nets, and are working without guard rails to protect them from injury, or without the benefit of personal fall arrest systems, their risk of being injured in an accident increases dramatically.

These workers may also be at risk of injury when the scaffolding they are working on is not properly designed, constructed or inspected.  A scaffolding collapse can result in fatalities and catastrophic injuries.

The other hazards that also feature in the most frequently cited violations list are respiratory protection, ladders, machine guarding, powered industrial trucks, electrical-wiring methods, lockout/tag out and electrical-general requirements.