Every year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list of the top 10 safety and health violations. Unfortunately, the list remains similar year after year. This means that workers continue to suffer needless injuries and deaths due to their employers’ failure to follow federal safety regulations. According to OSHA, more than 4,500 workers are killed and approximately three million are injured every year.
Are You at Risk of Injury or Death Due to These 10 Major Safety and Health Violations?
Employers in New Jersey have a duty to provide all workers with a healthy and safe work environment. OSHA estimates that many serious injuries and deaths would decline significantly if employers focused on the OSHA guidelines for preventing the top health and safety violations its inspectors find at workplaces. These main violations include:
- Fall protection. Falls continue to be the leading cause of worker death. While construction workers face the greatest risks of falls, workers in many other areas, such as building maintenance, warehouses , and factories, work from heights too. When elevated work areas do not have safeguards like guardrails, handrails, and hole coverings, the risk of a worker falling increases. In addition, workers are injured or die when they are not provided with harnesses, safety nets, hard hats, and other protective equipment needed in case of a fall.
- Hazard communication. Failing to properly communicate with workers about the hazardous chemicals and other substances they work with can lead to catastrophic accidents or workers developing an occupational disease—sometimes fatal—from long-term exposure to toxic substances. All hazardous materials should be properly labeled, safety sheets should be provided, and workers should be trained in the toxic chemical’s safe use.
- Scaffolding. Scaffolding can become hazardous when it is not constructed properly or it is overloaded with workers or equipment. If employers also fail to provide proper fall protection, workers can fall to their deaths if the scaffolding collapses.
- Respiratory protection. Millions of people work in jobs where they are required to wear respirators to remove contaminants from the air. When employers fail to provide this basic safety equipment, workers can be exposed to toxic substances like silica or asbestos and can develop cancer and lung diseases—often causing their early death.
- Lockout/tagout. Lockout and tagout procedures are designed to protect workers from being injured from hazardous energy when machines and equipment are being worked on. Many craft workers, electricians, machine operators, and laborers suffer catastrophic injuries, such as electrocution, burns, crushing injuries, lacerations, amputations, and fractures, or die when hazardous energy is unexpectedly released. Employers are required to have appropriate locking devices to prevent energy surges, train workers, and ensure that the safety procedures are being followed.
- Powered industrial trucks. When workers are not trained to properly use powered industrial trucks and machinery—such as forklifts—they can be hurt in a fall from the machinery, be crushed between a forklift and another object, or be hit as a pedestrian working nearby.
- Ladders. OSHA safety rules require employers to provide ladders with rungs, steps, and cleats that are parallel, level, and evenly spaced when the ladder is in use as well as more specific requirements for different types of ladders. When employers fail to provide sturdy, safe ladders that are right for a particular job, workers can be injured or killed in a fall.
- Machine guarding. Many machine moving parts can cause crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or loss of vision if guards are not installed on these parts to keep workers’ hands, feet, and other body parts away from these dangerous parts.
- Electrical wiring and equipment. Electricity is a huge hazard for workers and can contribute to fires as well as electrocution. Some common OSHA violations include improper grounding of wires, use of temporary wiring like extension cords instead of permanent wiring, and not installing cover plates.
- Electrical system design. OSHA requires employers to install and maintain any equipment as it was received and according to the manufacturer instructions. For example, plugging a power strip into an extension cord rather than an outlet would be a violation of OSHA rules. Open holes in electrical panels, missing covers on breaker boxes and panels, and lack of access for electrical equipment are a few of the violations that result in workers’ injuries and deaths.
If you were hurt in a workplace accident due to your employer’s violation of an OSHA safety and health regulations, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay your medical bills and lost wages. Start an online chat to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.