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Top 10

October 23, 2012

OSHA’s annual top 10 most frequently cited violations may not change very much from year to year, but they tell an interesting story nonetheless.

Patrick Kapust, OSHA’s deputy director of the Directorate of Enforcement Programs, unveiled the list during a forum presented by Safety+Health magazine on Oct. 23 at the NSC Congress & Expo. The presentation always pulls a large crowd, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to moderate it the last two years.

Before presenting the numbers, Kapust commented that the list usually does not change. There may be a bit of jockeying between standards – what was No. 1 and No. 2 one year might switch places the next – but regardless of order, the Top 10 more or less stays the same.

This doesn’t make the list boring. To me, I find the list to be a representative portrayal of workplace safety – or lack thereof – in this country. As Kapust said, OSHA isn’t citing these violations without cause – these standards cover areas in which OSHA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics are finding injuries. And, many of these standards cover similar hazards. For instance, three standards in the Top 5 – Ladders, Scaffolding and Fall Protection – all deal with similar hazards. Machine Guarding and Lockout/Tagout both rank in the Top 10, as do two electrical standards.

Employers who wish to keep their workers safe – and OSHA off their back – should take a close look at these standards and learn how they could be appropriately applied with in their workplaces.

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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