Most common OSHA violations highlight ongoing risks

Post-pandemic, don’t forget workers’ biggest risk: falls
For those companies facing a slow-down in production related to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may be a good time to revamp safety programs. (Photo: Visoot Uthairam, Dreamstime.com)

In the 12 months from October 2018 through September 2019, the most recent period reported by OSHA, the workplace safety agency cited the following standards more than any other in the 28 states that do not have OSHA-approved state plans, including Colorado:

  1. 1926.501—Duty to have fall protection; included in 459 citations, resulting in $2,475,596 in penalties ($5,393 per citation)
  2. 1926.451—General requirements for scaffolds; included in 265 citations, resulting in $834,324 in penalties ($3,148 per citation)
  3. 1926.1053—Requirements for ladders, including job-made ladders; included in 164 citations, resulting in $354,853 in penalties ($2,163 per citation)
  4. 1926.503—Training requirements related to fall protection; included in 114 citations, resulting in $156,076 in penalties ($1,369 per citation)
  5. 1926.405—Wiring methods, components and equipment for general use; included in 93 citations, resulting in $150,821 in penalties ($1,621 per citation)
  6. 1926.20—General safety and health provisions; included in 85 citations, resulting in $328,491 in penalties ($3,864 per citation)
  7. 1926.1052—Requirements for stairways; included in 79 citations, resulting in $155,651 in penalties ($1,970 per citation)
  8. 1926.102—Requirements for eye and face protection; included in 67 citations, resulting in $165,595 in penalties ($2,471 per citation)
  9. 1926.403—General requirements for electrical conductors and equipment; included in 63 citations, resulting in $146,050 in penalties ($2,318 per citation)
  10. 1926.100—Requirements for head protection; included in 55 citations, resulting in $127,274 in penalties ($2,314 per citation)

For those companies facing a slow-down in production related to the COVID-19 outbreak, it may be a good time to revamp safety programs. A good place to start this process is the OSHA Compliance Assistance Quick Start webpage. Note that pursuant to OSHA’s Multi-Employer Citation Policy, construction jobsites can involve multiple employers (e.g., general contractors, construction managers, subcontractors), each of which may be liable for OSHA violations. OSHA’s construction standard 1926.20(b) requires construction employers to have accident prevention programs that provide for frequent and regular inspection of the jobsites, materials and equipment by competent persons designated by the employers.

[Related: Offsite construction for onsite safety]

For those companies interested in instituting a safety and health program, or reevaluating the program they have in place, three good resources include OSHA’s Construction eTool: Safety & Health Program Component, its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction, and its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.

As OSHA states in the Foreword to its Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs in Construction:

“Establishing a safety and health program at your jobsite is one of the most effective ways of protecting your most valuable asset: your workers. Losing workers to injury or illness, even for a short time, can cause significant disruption and cost — to you as well as the workers and their families. It can also damage workplace morale, productivity, turnover, and reputation.”

Particularly with respect to health and safety, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus admonished each week on Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.”  In the construction industry, this starts with a good safety and health program; take this time to reevaluate yours now.

Please feel free to reach out to me at (303) 987-9813 or by email at [email protected] if you would like to explore revamping your building practices in order to make yourself a hardened target.

David McLain

David McLain is a founding member of Higgins, Hopkins, McLain & Roswell LLC, a law firm specializing in construction law and litigation in Colorado. He can be reached at [email protected]

David McLain has 10 posts and counting. See all posts by David McLain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *