- A sobering increase in workplace fatalities over the past year.
- A breakdown of the 2022’s most frequently cited OSHA violations.
- The continuous trend of fall protection topping the list.
- The importance of awareness in avoiding these violations.
- A reminder of workers’ rights and employer obligations under the OSH Act.
Understanding the Role of OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the health and safety of workers across the United States. Through regular inspections, OSHA identifies potential hazards and breaches of its regulations, aiming to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. However, with countless workplaces across the nation, OSHA can’t inspect them all. Yet when they do, and a violation is spotted, employers receive citations, serving both as a reminder and a warning to maintain safety standards.
A Grim Reality: Rising Workplace Fatalities
The statistics are harrowing. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the year 2021 saw 5,190 workplace fatalities, marking an 8.9% increase from the previous year. This unsettling rise underscores the importance of adhering to safety standards and regulations.
The 2022 OSHA Violations Breakdown
Let’s delve into the specifics. Here are the top 10 OSHA violations for the fiscal year 2022, shining a spotlight on the most recurrent workplace hazards:
- Fall Protection – 5,260 violations: Topping the list for the 12th consecutive year, fall protection is a paramount concern. Whether on construction sites, warehouses, or any high elevated workspace, ensuring that workers are safeguarded against falls is essential. Tragically, improper fall protection remains the leading cause of occupational injuries for a decade.
- Hazard Communication – 2,424 violations: Proper communication about potential hazards, including the handling and storage of dangerous materials, is crucial. A lapse in such communication can result in severe incidents.
- Respiratory Protection – 2,185 violations: Especially relevant in industries with airborne contaminants, respiratory protection is about ensuring workers have adequate and functional protective gear.
- Ladders – 2,143 violations: Improper ladder usage or faulty equipment can lead to significant injuries, emphasizing the need for regular ladder safety checks.
- Scaffolding – 2,058 violations: The construction industry, in particular, needs to be vigilant about scaffolding safety, ensuring stability and the proper setup of these temporary structures.
- Lockout/Tagout – 1,977 violations: This pertains to the practices ensuring machinery is properly shut off and can’t be unexpectedly started, which is crucial for maintenance and repair work.
- Powered Industrial Trucks – 1,749 violations: Forklifts and similar industrial vehicles can pose risks if not operated or maintained correctly.
- Fall Protection Training – 1,556 violations: Beyond having fall protection measures, training workers on their usage is just as critical.
- Eye and Face Protection – 1,401 violations: Industries involving chemicals, heavy machinery, or potential splashes need to prioritize facial protective gear.
- Machine Guarding – 1,370 violations: Protective barriers prevent workers from direct contact with moving parts, reducing injury risks.
Empowering Workers and Employers
Awareness is a potent tool. By shedding light on these common violations, OSHA aims to drive both employers and employees to be proactive. Workers should be informed about potential hazards and feel empowered to report them. On the flip side, employers can leverage this list to scrutinize and upgrade their safety protocols.
Knowing and Exercising Your Rights
Under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, every worker is entitled to a workplace free from severe, recognized hazards. This is non-negotiable. If you’re an employee, know that you can and should report any unsafe or hazardous conditions. Always document such scenarios, ensuring you have a record of any discrepancies. Employers, too, must remember their obligation to adhere to the standards, rules, and regulations outlined by the OSH Act.
The top 10 OSHA violations of 2022 serve as a stark reminder of the constant need for vigilance in workplace safety. Both employers and workers must collaborate, ensuring that everyone returns home safely at the end of each working day. Safety isn’t just a regulation—it’s a responsibility.