Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration publishes a list of the 10 most frequently violated safety rules in workplaces across the country. The purpose of this list is to remind workers and employers of the dangers of violating these standards, with the hope that the number of injuries will decrease.
Although the list appears every year, very little changes with each new posting. The same violations in practically the same order may indicate that, despite OSHA's efforts, workers and their supervisors are not taking seriously the need for greater caution on the job.
More than any other safety violation, omitting fall protection occurs most often. It may come as no surprise to you that falls are the most frequent reason for serious on-the-job injuries. You may think of fall injuries as those involving great heights, such as construction workers. Unfortunately, many jobs place workers at risk of falling, for example:
- Working on overhead platforms
- Working on elevated work stations
- Working in or around holes
Fall protection violations coming in first on the top-10 list does not include specific standards for ladders and scaffolding. If your job requires you to climb a ladder or assemble and dismantle scaffolding, you have your own rules to follow, and violations of those rules are common enough to make the top 10. In fact, 20 percent of fall accidents are from ladders, and OSHA recommends that projects reduce or eliminate any ladder usage when possible.
Danger may be inherent in your job. For example, if you work around chemicals, you may have very clear protocol to follow for identifying, handling and storing those chemicals. Failing to properly label hazards, alert workers and provide protection is the second most common reason for workplace injuries. Other frequent hazards around which standards are frequently ignored include:
- Vapors, fumes and gases
- Rotating blades and gears
- Electrical sources and wiring
You may work around heavy equipment that can be a hazard if your co-workers and supervisors choose to ignore safety standards. For example, about 100,000 people suffer injuries in forklift accidents each year. Taking shortcuts to save time may place lives in danger, especially where powered industrial equipment is concerned.
While OSHA sets minimum standards for ensuring your safety, you may still find yourself the victim of a workplace accident. In such cases, you are eligible for workers' compensation insurance, and you have the right to seek legal assistance in obtaining those benefits.