OSHA's Top 10 most cited violations
Growing data and changing inspection strategies
The Top 10 list of OSHA’s most-frequently cited violations for fiscal year 2015 may look similar to last year’s, but change is happening behind the scenes.
One year ago, OSHA began collecting additional data from employers on amputations and hospitalizations; the resulting information has led to the agency “engaging with every employer” involved in the reported incidents, Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Activities, said in an exclusive interview with Safety+Health.
In September, OSHA announced it will move away from tallying each inspection equally and instead will use a weighted system based on how complicated the inspection may be. The new system is intended to place greater value on complex inspections and allow for easier strategic planning on OSHA’s part.
Additionally, the agency is continuing other efforts – including focused inspections across the country – to mitigate high-hazard threats, such as those related to ergonomics and working at height. Employers who want to avoid being cited for one of the “Top 10” violations need to be proactive.
“We continue to encourage employers to abate hazards before an OSHA inspection and, more importantly, before a worker gets hurt,” Kapust told S+H.
Most-cited violations, fiscal year 2015
Data current as of Oct. 8, 2015
Top 10 "serious" violations, fiscal year 2015
A “serious” violation is defined by OSHA as “one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.”
Top 10 "willful" violations, fiscal year 2015
OSHA defines a “willful” violation as one “committed with an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and requirements.”
This list of OSHA’s proposed monetary penalties in fiscal year 2015 comprises penalties stemming from a single incident or related incidents in which one or more companies are alleged to have failed to adhere to safe work practices. This failure puts workers at risk – in some cases fatally. The following information was provided by OSHA.
Note: These fines represent proposed penalties issued by federal OSHA between Oct. 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015. Dollar amounts may be reduced as part of a settlement agreement or litigation.
Companies: Joseph Kehrer, Kehrer Brothers Construction, D7 Roofing
Location: Okawville, IL (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Construction
Inspection trigger: Complaint
Event: Employees were exposed to asbestos fibers without their knowledge while removing floor tiles, insulation and other materials at a former elementary school. Many of the workers were temporary and foreign-born, hired through a visa program.
Major citations: Kehrer and Kehrer Brothers were cited with 16 egregious, nine willful and six serious violations in which they allegedly failed to provide personal protective equipment, create a decontamination area and use appropriate work methods to minimize asbestos exposure. The proposed fines total $1.79 million, and Kehrer Brothers was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. D7 Roofing was cited for two willful violations for failure to train workers or inform them of the presence of asbestos-containing material, and one serious violation for failure to conduct required inspections; proposed penalties totaled $147,000.
“Kehrer Brothers Construction brought non-English-speaking workers to the U.S. and knowingly exposed them to asbestos. Kehrer also threatened to fire his employees if they spoke with our investigators. This is outrageous, illegal behavior.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: Ashley Furniture
Location: Arcadia, WI (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Furniture retailer
Inspection trigger: Worker injury
Event: During a three-year period, workers at the Arcadia location suffered more than 1,000 work-related injuries. In July 2014, three of one worker’s fingers were amputated while he was operating a woodworking machine that lacked required safety mechanisms.
Major citations: Twelve willful and 12 repeat violations for not protecting workers from injuries due to moving machine parts, not preventing machines from unintentionally starting and not providing safety mechanisms to prevent contact with moving parts. Additionally, 14 serious violations were cited for not training workers on safety procedures, hazards present when servicing machinery, inadequate drenching facilities and a lack of readily accessible emergency stop buttons. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“Ashley Furniture intentionally and willfully disregarded OSHA standards and its own corporate safety manuals to encourage workers to increase productivity and meet deadlines. The company apparently blamed the victims for their own injuries, but there is clear evidence that injuries were caused by the unsafe conditions created by the company.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: Case Farms Processing Inc.
Location: Winesburg, OH (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Chicken processor
Inspection trigger: Referral
Event: During a February 2015 inspection, compliance officers found amputation, fall and electrical hazards; a lack of personal protective equipment and emergency eyewash stations; and improperly stored oxygen cylinders.
Major citations: Two willful violations for machine guarding and electrical hazards; 20 repeat violations for guardrail, personal protective equipment and lockout/tagout hazards; and 30 serious violations of walking-working, means of egress, and eye and face protection rules. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“In the past 25 years, Case Farms has been cited for more than 350 safety and health violations. Despite committing to OSHA that it would eliminate serious hazards, Case Farms continues to endanger the safety and health of its workers.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Company: Lloyd Industries Inc.
Location: Montgomeryville, PA (OSHA Region 3)
Business type: Ventilation, duct and fire safety product manufacturer
Inspection trigger: Worker injury
Event: In July 2014, three fingers of a worker were amputated after the die on a press brake machine dropped on the worker’s hand. The machine lacked required safeguards and was not working properly, OSHA alleges. The agency accuses Lloyd Industries and its owner, William Lloyd, of a “pattern of defiance” toward OSHA standards. Since 2000, the site has had about 40 worker injuries, including lacerations and crushed, fractured, dislocated and amputated fingers. The company has repeatedly failed to correct hazards found by OSHA inspectors.
Major citations: Ten willful violations for repeated failure to guard machines and provide annual audiometric tests, and three willful, four serious and seven other-than-serious violations for alleged electrical hazard, noise protection and recordkeeping violations. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“William Lloyd and Lloyd Industries are serial violators of OSHA safety standards, and their workers have paid the price. No employer is above the law. For 15 years, they have repeatedly put their employees at risk of serious injuries. This must stop now.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Companies: Case Farms Processing Inc. and Callaghan and Callaghan
Location: Canton, OH (OSHA Region 5)
Business type: Chicken processor and cleaning subcontractor
Inspection trigger: Worker injuries
Event: On March 25, two fingertips of a Case Farms employee were amputated while he was cleaning a fat sucker machine. The machine was not prevented from operating during the cleaning process. The worker was subsequently suspended from his job and later fired. Less than two weeks later, a liver-giblet chiller machine amputated the leg of a teen working for Callaghan and Callaghan, which was doing business as Cal-Clean. Safety mechanisms were missing from the machine.
Major citations: Case Farms was cited with two willful violations of lockout/tagout and machine guarding rules; 10 repeat violations of recordkeeping, lockout/tagout and electrical rules; and four serious violations of lockout/tagout and electrical rules. Proposed penalties total $424,600, and the company is in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Callaghan and Callaghan was cited with two willful violations of lockout/tagout rules; and five serious violations of eye and face protection, hazard communication and walking/working surfaces rules. Proposed penalties total $179,700.
“Both Case Farms and Cal-Clean need to make safety a priority for employees who work at dangerous meat processing facilities.” – Howard Eberts, OSHA area director in Cleveland
Companies: Fastrack Erectors Inc. and ARCO National Construction-KC Inc.
Location: Kansas City, MO (OSHA Region 7)
Business type: Construction subcontractor and general contractor Inspection trigger: Worker death
Event: An apprentice ironworker was standing 30 feet off the ground on a 9-inch-wide steel girder on a building under construction when he fell to his death on July 25, 2014. OSHA alleges that the worker was not provided with fall protection.
Major citations: Fastrack Erectors was cited with seven willful violations of scaffold, aerial lift and fall protection rules; and three serious violations of steel erection training and fall protection rules. Proposed penalties totaled $511,000, and the company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. ARCO was cited with four serious violations of fall protection, aerial lift and scaffold rules, and a proposed fine totaling $19,000.
“This tragedy illustrates how quickly a worker can die when fall protection is not provided, and why it’s so important.” – Marcia Drumm, OSHA regional administrator in Kansas City
Company: First Capital Insulation Inc.
Location: Harrisburg, PA (OSHA Region 3)
Business type: Environmental services
Inspection trigger: Complaint
Event: OSHA alleges the company failed to take steps to protect three workers from risks posed by asbestos exposure during pipe insulation removal at an unoccupied residence.
Major citations: Seven willful violations for improper removal of asbestos, failure to ensure respirators fit correctly, and not decontaminating employees and their clothing before leaving the worksite.
“We found employees removing insulation containing asbestos without first wetting the material, which reduces the danger of exposure. A little water could have made all the difference and the company knew this.” – Kevin Kilp, OSHA area director in Harrisburg
Company: Alfa Laval Inc.
Location: Broken Arrow, OK (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Manufacturer of heat transfer, centrifugal separation and fluid-handling products
Inspection trigger: Planned inspection
Event: An inspection uncovered several workplace safety violations, five of which were previously identified in past inspections.
Major citations: Five repeat violations for machine guarding, lockout/tagout and ventilation hazards; and 45 serious violations for combustible dust hazards, inadequate ventilation for paint storage, fire hazards and chemical hazards. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“A continued failure by the company to make needed changes to its safety program may well result in severe injuries or worse.” – David Bates, OSHA area director in Oklahoma City
Company: DMAC Construction LLC
Location: Philadelphia (OSHA Region 3)
Business type: Construction
Inspection trigger: Complaint and referral
Event: In November 2014, OSHA was informed of an alleged imminent danger situation involving DMAC. Upon arriving at the site, inspectors found an improperly braced scaffold being erected too close to power lines. Three weeks later, OSHA received notification of another imminent danger situation at a second worksite, where workers were found laying bricks 35 feet above the ground without fall protection. Scaffolding hazards were found at both sites.
Major citations: The company received seven citations for willful violations of scaffold rules and a citation for a repeat violation of the Hazard Communication Standard. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“These hazards are not new to DMAC Construction, yet the company refuses to make needed changes to put worker safety first. This employer must take immediate action to prevent an unnecessary tragedy.” – Nicholas DeJesse, OSHA director in Philadelphia
Company: Hassell Construction Co. Inc.
Location: Richmond, TX (OSHA Region 6)
Business type: Construction
Inspection trigger: Worker injury
Event: An 8-foot-deep trench collapsed, burying a worker. Co-workers dug the man out of the collapsed trench with their bare hands and pulled him to safety. Moments later, the trench collapsed again. The injured worker was hospitalized.
Major citations: Six willful violations related to excavation requirements; and nine serious violations of rigging equipment, excavation and ladder rules. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
“For more than 2,500 years, man has known how to prevent deadly trench collapses. It is absolutely unacceptable that employers continue to endanger the lives of workers in trenches.” – OSHA administrator David Michaels
Q & A with OSHA's Patrick Kapust
Patrick Kapust (pictured, right) is the deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, where he leads a staff supporting the agency’s mission of standards enforcement. Kapust – who has been with OSHA for nearly 25 years – answered questions from Safety+Health Senior Associate Editor Kyle W. Morrison (on left) about recent changes to how OSHA measures enforcement activities, as well as workplace injury trends.
Safety+Health: At the 2015 National Safety Council Congress & Expo, OSHA administrator David Michaels announced that the agency would be moving away from counting the number of inspections it conducts. Instead, OSHA said it intends to measure “enforcement units,” with complicated inspections weighted higher than other less- time-consuming inspections. Can you explain how this system will work and what OSHA hopes to accomplish by using this new metric?
Patrick Kapust: The new enforcement weighting system assigns greater value to complex inspections that require more time and resources. The new system will allow for more strategic planning and measurement of inspections, and ensure that all workers are equally protected, regardless of the industry they work in. Routine inspections count as 1 “Enforcement Unit,” while those requiring greater resources – such as those involving musculoskeletal disorders, chemical exposures, workplace violence, and process safety management violations – count anywhere from 2 to 8 units. The values are based on historical data and will be monitored and adjusted as necessary.
S+H: What should employers expect under this new tallying system? Could employers in some industries find that inspections take longer and yield more citations?
Kapust: Employers should already know that OSHA may conduct inspections and issue citations for any sort of serious hazard, such as musculoskeletal disorders, workplace violence or exposures to chemicals – whether or not we have a specific applicable standard. We continue to encourage employers to abate hazards before an OSHA inspection and, more importantly, before a worker gets hurt.
As OSHA launches this new system, it is important to recognize what will not change. Whether it is to respond to a worker complaint alleging exposure to serious workplace hazards, investigate the occurrence of a severe injury or illness, or implement an enforcement emphasis program, all inspections will receive OSHA’s full commitment and effort to address relevant safety and health issues.
S+H: In January, a new rule went into effect requiring employers to report to OSHA all work-related fatalities within eight hours, and all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of eyes within 24 hours. What has OSHA learned from these reports?
Kapust: Before 2015, employers were only required to report to OSHA work-related fatalities or incidents in which three or more workers were hospitalized. Often, when we conducted inspections of the worksites involved in these tragic events, we found that they had previous serious injuries and amputations that we had never known about. These injuries were red flags that there were serious hazards in this workplace that needed to be prevented.
Information gathered through the new reporting requirements was incorporated into OSHA’s updated National Emphasis Program on amputations and led the agency to develop a fact sheet on hazards from food slicers and meat grinders used in grocery stores, restaurants and delis.
Through the first nine months of this new reporting policy, we have already received more than 8,700 reports. We are triaging every call and initiating inspections in about a third of reported incidents – but we are engaging with every employer. We expect employers who we are not inspecting to conduct their own investigation and let us know what changes they will make to prevent further injuries. Investigating a worksite incident – a fatality, injury or illness – provides employers and workers the opportunity to identify hazards in their operations and shortcomings in their safety and health programs and, more importantly, to identify and implement the corrective actions necessary to prevent future workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.
S+H: According to preliminary data in a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, fatal injuries among construction and agriculture workers increased in 2014. What is OSHA doing in response to these increases, and how do these fatal injuries relate to standards on the Top 10 list?
Kapust: Preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics does show construction fatalities up from 828 in 2013 to 874 in 2014. However, the fatality rate has dropped from 9.7 to 9.5 (per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) over the same period, during which there has been an increase in construction starts. Falls continue to be the leading cause of construction fatalities and one of the most commonly cited OSHA standards. Therefore, OSHA continued the Fall Prevention Campaign and National Safety Stand-Down in 2014 and 2015. These efforts, which have reached millions of workers and employers on the importance of protecting workers from fall hazards, will continue in the future.
S+H: Musculoskeletal disorders account for one-third of all injuries and illnesses, and are especially prevalent among nurses. Although federal OSHA doesn’t have an ergonomics standard, and thus it wouldn’t be on the Top 10 list, the agency has issued citations for ergonomics violations through the General Duty Clause. What should employers be aware of regarding MSDs, and what enforcement efforts is OSHA undertaking to lower MSD injuries?
Kapust: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 34 percent of all lost workday (nonfatal) incidents in 2013 were musculoskeletal disorders. Digging deeper into the BLS numbers shows that most of the injuries were strains and sprains from overexertion. By far, workers in hospitals and nursing homes had the highest number of work-related MSDs, where the injuries often end their careers in health care. Other occupations with high MSD rates include transportation/material movement, construction, and production work. OSHA issued eight General Duty citations in fiscal year 2015 in cases where the employer did not address well-recognized ergonomic risk factors (three in poultry; two in grocery distribution; and one each in a nursing home, airline and housekeeping).
From 2012 to 2015, OSHA had a National Emphasis Program to address the leading causes of injuries in nursing homes, including resident handling. The program included extensive outreach to the industry, compliance assistance and hazard alert letters. Hazard alert letters are used to put employers on notice when OSHA identifies a hazard during an inspection, but the evidence gathered in the case is insufficient to support the issuance of a General Duty Clause violation. In these letters, OSHA provides the employer with a list of feasible abatement measures it can take to mitigate the hazards. Over the three years from 2012 to 2015, a total of 199 ergonomic hazard alert letters were sent to nursing home employers and 12 citations were issued for injuries related to resident handling. In June 2015, OSHA’s Assistant Secretary’s Office sent the regional administrators a memo broadening the impact of OSHA activities in the health care industry, focusing on hospitals and nursing/long-term facilities with in-patient care. The memo provides guidance for compliance officers to look at five serious hazards on any unprogrammed or programmed inspections in health care (i.e., all North American Industry Classification System Major Groups 622 ?[Hospitals] and 623 [Nursing and Residential Care Facilities]). The five hazards are workplace violence, tuberculosis, bloodborne pathogens, slip/trips/falls, and patient/resident handling. Also, the memo encourages assessment of other hazards (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, multi-drug resistant organisms, hazardous chemicals, anesthetic gases and hazardous drugs). OSHA will continue to work with employers by providing guidance, outreach and compliance assistance to keep new and experienced workers on the job without injuries.
S+H: The Fall Protection Standard has topped the list for the past five years. What about this standard yields so many violations? What common employer mistakes does OSHA see?
Kapust: Fall protection is required above 6 feet in construction, and there are many phases of construction with potential exposure. Fall protection is widely recognized as a major hazard and is therefore often referred to OSHA. Nearly every [OSHA] region has an emphasis program on fall protection in an effort to make an impact. A lack of fall protection on a construction project is extremely hazardous and treated as such by compliance officers.
Infographic: OSHA's Top 10 list summarized in one image
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