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The 2016 Top 10 OSHA Citations and Proactive Prevention

Posted by Gregory Monzo on January 17, 2017
Gregory Monzo
Another year, another opportunity for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inform business owners and safety managers alike of what regulations companies are violating the most.

Another year, another opportunity for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inform business owners and safety managers alike of what regulations companies are violating the most.

The annual top 10 OSHA citations list has increasingly become a valuable tool in assessing workplace hazards and, when paired with a proactive approach to employee safety, can facilitate a much safer work environment.

Violations by the numbers

Not much has changed from last year in terms of rankings on OSHA's top 10 citations list—an indication that even though organizations are aware of the most common workplace injuries, they struggle to prevent them.

"The top 10 citations remained unchanged."

Fall protection (1926.501), hazard communication (1910.1200) and scaffolding (1926.451) make up the top three, respectively. These ranked the same as last year's list. All in all, over 35,000 violations stemming from the top 10 were recorded in during the 2016 fiscal year, a staggering number that doesn't speak to the fines, fees and workers compensation associated with it.

Here's the 2016 top 10 OSHA violations list:

OSHA - The top 10 citations 2016.png

Besides machine guarding and electrical (wiring methods) switching spots, there hasn't been any major shake ups. Identifying which of these pertain most to your organization's daily operations is important, as it allows you to correlate general industry data with your own to understand whether your business is ahead of the field or behind it, and assess what steps can be taken moving forward.

That being said, this task becomes infinitely more difficult when dealing with a paper-based system, as this outdated method doesn't provide the transparency generated from being able to view aggregated statistical data captured by a health and safety management software solution.

Digging through the numbers

It's difficult to take the list of the top 10 violations at face value and try to improve from it. Each citation has its own list of the most common sub-sections offended within each rule, and they provide context for safety managers to work with when revamping a safety program.

For example, one of the prevalent sub-sections cited under fall protection was 1926.501(b)(1), which addresses unprotected sides or edges of a worksite. This alone composed 1,278 of the 6,906 citations in total, putting it as the second-most important safety risk to identify on the job moving forward, in terms of volume.

Similarly,  507 out of the 3,900 scaffolding violations resulted from workers being told to use cross-braces as an access point. When analyzing the top 10 list, be sure to investigate each of the top five sections cited under each standard, as reported by Health and Safety magazine.

The sub-section of violated rules give a better picture of what the citations were for.The sub-section of violated rules give a better picture of what the citations were for.

Getting ahead of injuries and citations

Armed with tried and trusted knowledge, safety managers can make the most out of this recent list compiled by OSHA. Knowing that thousands of citations were handed out due to infractions among various regulations, organizations can better prepare themselves for the year ahead.

Reviewing publicly available industry data on employee safety is a key principle in taking a proactive approach to organizational health and wellness, according to Health and Safety Handbook. Other steps include:

  • Training workers to recognize potential incidents before they occur.
  • Analyzing internal employee health and safety data, including incidents and near-misses.
  • Administering a routine hazard analysis.

A proactive approach seeks to combine internal data with external, industry specific figures in an effort to refine safety strategies. To implement this efficiently, cost-effectively and without incurring any disruptions in day-to-day operations, safety managers should leverage health and safety software, which helps automate integral components of the process, like incident and near-miss reporting and recordkeeping, audit management and updates on regulatory changes. Otherwise, departments will spend far too much time focusing on administrative tasks, rather than turning data into action.

"Analyzing internal and publicly available data should be your first step."

Getting started is easy—maintaining progress can be a bit more challenging. To begin, Health and Safety Handbook recommended establishing the basics. Use your health and safety software to identify the origins of injuries and accidents that happen most often in your workplace, and cross-check that with the publicly available data provided by OSHA. Big data analysis is key because predictive modeling bolsters a proactive approach—some health and safety management systems can do the legwork for you, leaving you more time to understand what the numbers mean for your business.

After looking through the data, identify what matches with trends in your industry, and immediately begin to implement controls to mitigate risks and rectify errant behavior. This could be as simple as showing employees how to properly use equipment, or more complex like understand the slope on a roof and what tool or discretion is needed. Lean on your health and safety software to identify skill gaps and help you assess which lesson plans are working well.

Also be sure you're providing workforce leaders with a platform to voice their opinions and concerns, as well as a mechanism to report near-misses—this is a standard component of health and safety technology in many cases. This helps to establish an "employee safety first" mentality, and allows you to understand how many actual incidents there are occurring daily. A 2003 ConocoPhillips Marine study estimated that for every workplace fatality, there are 300,000 at-risk behaviors that could have led to injury or death. Identifying and remediating these behaviors is not simply a "nice-to-do"; it could be the difference between life and death.

Interested in learning how health and safety software can help your organization align its health and safety program with industry standards and implement a proactive approach?      Get a demo today.

Topics: Incident Management System, EHS Software, Safety, OSHA, Business Insights

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