OSHA Reveals Top Safety Violations in 2017, Delays Silica Rule Enforcement

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released their top cited workplace safety violations in 2017. Violations vary from year-to-year with minor changes annually.

Fall protection violations remain the top cited violations in 2017 followed by hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, lockout/tagout, ladders, powered industrial trucks, machine grading, fall protection training requirements and electrical wiring methods.

Construction falls lead the top safety violations for the year.

Falls led to 350 deaths out of 937 total job site deaths in 2015. OSHA imposes severe fines against job-site safety violations in an effort to curb unsafe practices. OSHA fined one contractor $1.5 million for repeated fall violations.

OSHA also imposes additional conditions and programs against repeat violators. The agency placed the repeat violator on their Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which imposes additional inspections and monitoring on the construction company.

OSHA can also impose further safety training requirements on companies to ensure that workers are trained to properly work in construction environments.

The agency has cracked down on construction companies in recent months. In August, OSHA imposed a $95,000 fine against a South Dakota contractor after a worker was covered in debris following a non-fatal collapse. The contractor was found to not provide the appropriate inspections and protection systems required to prevent the incident from occurring.

OSHA also decided to delay silica rule enforcement.

The revised rule was scheduled to be enforced on September 23. OSHA has announced that the rule will not be enforced for another 30 days. The company will not issue fines or citations at this time.

The rule reduces construction worker exposure to airborne silica. It also requires construction companies to provide a written plan and training when working with silica. OSHA states that the extra 30-day period will provide employers with enough time to comply to the new rule.

OSHA expects the new rule will help reduce the cases of silicosis by more than 900 per year. Industry groups have started to come out against the rule, filing a legal challenge that will be heard at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The agency will evaluate the efforts of construction companies during the first 30 days of the law’s enforcement. Good faith efforts will be taken into consideration during this time period before imposing any fines or penalties against companies.

OSHA will continue to provide assistance to any employers that make good faith efforts to remain compliant with the silica rule.