OSHA fall protection violations 2020

Every year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) puts together a list of the most cited violations per standard in the United States, for the previous (fiscal) year.

Fall protection citations have topped that list for the last 10 years. Showing that the duty to have fall protection is still not as widespread as it should be. Additionally, three other standards related to working at height, and fall hazards are also featured in the top 10; Scaffolding, Ladders and Fall Protection – Training requirements.

Compared to 2019 it seems that a the amount of violations has gone down, but we need to take into account that 2020 was a unusual year in which a global pandemic influenced many workplaces. We have seen situations where whole worksites were shut down, others were only working at half capacity, etc.

Fall Protection – General Requirement

For the past 10 years Fall Protection standard violations have topped the list of OSHA’s annual top 10 list. In an earlier blog we had a look a fall accident statistics (download that infographic here), where we saw that 711 fatal accidents were reported and 48.040 nonfatal fall accidents. Looking at the number of citations and the statistics we can conclude that our work as an expert in work at height safety is far from done.

Most commonly cited substandards include fall protection for residential construction work, unprotected sides and edges, roofing work on low-slope roofs, work on steel sloped roofs and protection from falling through holes or skylights.

* The respective subsections of the standard provides more insight into what methods can be used to protect workers from a fall

Fall Protection – Training Requirements

Providing the right fall protection equipment is only one part of the equation of keeping people working at height safe. The other part is proper training. Employees have to know how to use their safety equipment and have to be aware of, and understand, the fall hazards present in their workplace before starting their work.

* The respective subsections of the standard provide more insight.

Financial Consequences

OSHA can hand out fines for companies that violate safety requirements. Penalties range from a maximum of $13.653 for serious violations, to a maximum of $136.532 for willful or repeat violations (for 2021). These fines often come on top of costs made for compensation, medical costs, etc.

The Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index calculated the direct costs of nonfatal falls from height where a worker was away from work for more than five days. For the construction industry falls to a lower level where the cause of the most costly injuries, at almost 3.6 billion these accidents amount for 33.8% of all total compensation costs.

Want to learn more about the cost of a fall accident, click here.

OSHA Top 10 Violations Infographic

OSHA’s top 10 frequently cited standards can help employers, safety professionals and others in identifying common hazards in the workplace. After identification proper safety measures need to be taken to prevent accidents from happening. This helps provide a safe workplace, prevents accidents, and saves money.

Download the infographic, print it and hang it in a visible place to remind everyone of the importance of workplace safety.

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