The potential for work-related injuries is always present regardless of how conscientious and attentive you are about observing health and safety regulations in the workplace.
For reducing causes of work-related accidents and maintaining a safe environment, team vigilance at all levels is critical. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues about 40,000 violations to organizations each year. This list of preventable safety violations shows us which areas have the largest number of violations that result in injuries and fatalities.
- Fall protection
Falls are among the most frequent cause of work-related accidents. Employers need to set up the workplace to prevent personnel from falling off elevated workstations or overhead platforms, or through holes in the walls or floor.
- Respiratory protection
Respirators protect personnel against harmful vapors, gases, sprays, mists, smoke, fog, dust, and insufficient oxygen environments. It is estimated that about 5 million people are required to wear respirators in workplaces across the U.S because these hazards may cause lung impairment, cancer, respiratory diseases, and death.
- Hazards communication
The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) by OSHA is there to ensure that information about associated protective measures and hazards is adequately disseminated. For example, HCS requires chemical importers, distributors, and manufacturers to communicate the dangers of their products in Safety Data Sheets.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 54 deaths per year are the result of staging and scaffolding accidents. About 72% of personnel injured in scaffold-related mishaps attribute the accident to being struck by a falling object, slipping, or the support/planking giving way. Those factors can be controlled by compliance with regulations and standards.
- Ladders and stairways
Ladders and stairways are major sources of work-related injuries and deaths. For example, in construction and mining, ladder and stairway injuries are severe enough to require time off from work. OSHA regulations apply to all ladders and stairways used in repairs, alteration, construction, decoration, painting, and demolition of worksites.
- Electrical wiring
Electricians, engineers, and other professionals work directly with electricity, including working on circuit assemblies, cable harnesses, and overhead lines. However, other professionals, such as salespeople and office workers, may be exposed to electrical hazards indirectly. Electricity has been a serious workplace hazard for a long time. Electrical safety violations may expose employees to a higher risk of electrocution, electric shock, explosions, and fires.
- Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)
Personnel maintaining or servicing equipment or machines may be severely injured or killed in cases where hazardous energy is not properly controlled. Failing to control hazardous energy during equipment maintenance can be severe, with injuries including fractured body parts, amputations, lacerations, cuts, crushing injuries, burns, electrocution, and others. LOTO-related accidents account for about 10% of all serious work-related accidents.
All these safety violations lead to injuries and even deaths. However, they are preventable thanks to proper practices and procedures designed to safeguard workers from different hazardous situations. To make sure that all procedures are followed, everyone should be trained on safety procedures and provided with an essential checklist with items to check off before the work begins.