OSHA’s Top 5 Most Cited Violations in 2011 – Best Practices that Companies Can Follow to Ensure Compliance

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: February 03, 2012
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OSHA inspections reveal that the Scaffolding and Fall Protection Standards in Construction topped the list of the top ten most frequently standards cited by it during FY 2011. The top 5 of the most-cited violations in 2011 were:
  1. 1926.451 -- Scaffolding
  2. 1926.501 – Fall Protection
  3. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
  4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
  5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
Violation of 1926.501 – Fall Protection
On Dec 29, 2011, OSHA cited Martha M. Alvarez, a residential roofing contractor based in Houston, Texas, with six safety violations for failing to provide fall protection at three Wisconsin job sites. Three of them were willful and three of them were serious in nature.
OSHA inspected two sites in Cambridge and one in Janesville under a local emphasis program for fall protection and proposed fines totaling USD 102,300. Three willful violations were triggered by the failure to provide fall protection on commercial and/or residential roofs at the three inspected sites. Each violation carried a proposed penalty of $30,800.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Falls being the leading cause of death and injury in the construction industry, employers should ensure that workers are provided with and trained in the use of required fall protection. The employer failed to comply with the OSHA standards laid down in The standards require that an effective form of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or personal fall arrest systems, be provided when workers perform residential construction activities 6 feet or more above the next lower level.
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Violation of 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication and 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
On Dec 27, 2011, OSHA cited Model Screw Products Inc. of Clearwater for 18 safety violations. OSHA took up an investigation upon receipt of a complaint that PVC piping was inappropriately being used for compressed air and proposed penalties totaling USD 109,800. The inspection revealed that PVC piping used to transport compressed air had ruptured thrice. On the third occasion, an employee suffered hearing loss and trauma. OSHA cited one willful violation with a penalty of USD 63,000 for using PVC piping to transport compressed air.
The employer knew the dangers associated with transporting compressed air through PVC piping but chose to put employees at risk thereby violating OSHA standards. Best practices required that the employer assess workplace hazards and ensure that corrective measures were taken to protect employees.
Nine serious violations attracting a total penalty of USD 42,300 were also cited for failing to develop or utilize lockout/tagout procedures. Best practices required that the employer develop or utilize lockout / tagout procedures to ensure compliance with OSHA standards.  
Eight other-than-serious violations attracted a total penalty of USD 4,500. An other-than-serious violation has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably will not cause death or serious physical harm.
Violation of 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
On Dec 21, 2011, OSHA cited Granbury Contracting and Utilities Inc. for two willful and two serious safety and health violations following the death of a worker at the company's Gordon facility.
OSHA's Fort Worth Area Office initiated an inspection on June 28 in response to a report that employees working on a new sewer line were exposed to inhalation of a hazardous chemical. One employee who entered a manhole to remove a plug in order to flush out accumulated debris was killed by toxic fumes. Another employee was hospitalized after attempting to rescue his co-worker.
The failure to test for atmospheric conditions and provide adequate ventilation and emergency retrieval equipment prior to entry into a manhole was a willful violation. The failure to provide or require the use of respirators as well as conduct an assessment to determine the potential for a hazardous atmosphere where oxygen deficiency, methane and/or hydrogen sulfide were present or likely to be present was a serious violation.
Best practices to ensure compliance with OSHA standards required that the company ensured that proper confined space entry procedures were followed. But it failed to do so, thereby violating OSHA standards.


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