Towards the end of every year, OSHA attends the National Safety Council Congress & Expo and shares its Top 10 List for the most cited safety standards violations for the past year. For those in the industry, this is usually a perfunctory tradition since there typically isn’t much movement on the list. When there is a change, however, it’s always a good idea to examine the standard and investigate ways to reduce the number of violations.
Top 10 OSHA Cited Violations of 2018
- Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 7,270
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 4,552
- Scaffolding (1926.451): 3,336
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 3,118
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,944
- Ladders (1926.1053): 2,812
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,294
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,982
- Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,972
- Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,536 (Based on data as of Oct. 1, 2018.)
The changes from last year were that Fall Protection edged out Machine Guarding for eighth place, and Eye and Face Protection bumped last year’s Wiring Methods off the list for tenth place. Otherwise, all the other violation citation rankings have held fast. Incredibly, that makes Fall Protection the most cited safety standard for six years running.
Best Practices for Eye and Face Protection
It’s unlikely that Fall Protection will ever be dethroned considering its substantial lead on second place Hazard Communication. However, with a little attention, perhaps Eye and Face Protection citations can be reduced enough to be excluded from the list next year. One of the common solutions for Eye and Face Protection is to provide personal protective equipment to employees, like face shields and goggles, however, one of the biggest challenges is ensuring that employees use the PPE. The following are some simple steps employers can take to improve adoption in the workforce.
- Provide anti-fogging solutions. No one wants to be blinded by condensation while they’re working. When safety goggles or face shields fog up, the natural reaction is to remove the equipment. Doing so puts the worker at risk and is cause for a citation.
- Make sure the equipment fits and is comfortable for a wide range of body types. One size rarely fits all, especially when it comes to safety equipment. Provide different options so that workers aren’t distracted by discomfort on the job.
- Ensure that the PPE fits correctly. Just because a worker is wearing the protective equipment, that doesn’t guarantee that they’re wearing it correctly. Over 90% of eye injuries that occurred while workers were wearing PPE are due to chemicals or particles entering around or under protective shields.
- Make PPE easy to access. People get distracted all the time. Goggles get left on the lunch table. A face shield is left in a work truck. Rather than go and get them, workers might be more inclined to work without them. Have PPE stations nearby to make smart decisions easy.
- Spend a little more now to prevent spending a lot in the future. The quality of PPE can affect its ability to protect the worker, but also its ability to not interfere with work. If a worker can’t see through eyewear because it’s scratched easily, then that worker may stop using it altogether.
- Elevate senior workers to safety mentors. Workers who are younger than 45 have an eye injury rate of roughly three times as high as older workers. That’s because older workers are more likely to wear eye protection. Those workers can help evangelize wearing PPE to the younger employees.
- Hold “toolbox talks” as low-cost training sessions. Not every jobsite has the luxury of a training space, but there’s always room for managers to pull a handful of workers into a huddle to discuss health and safety management. Having these quick refreshers helps remind workers to keep safety top of mind.
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