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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations of 2019 – 3 Ways How Safety Leaders Can Be Better

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September 25, 2019

Raphaela Mandel

Every year, OSHA releases their Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations, and this year struck another painful chord with the safety community. For the ninth consecutive year, Fall Protection – General Requirements ranked number one.

This list remained unchanged from 2018 with the exception of Lockout/Tagout climbing to spot no. 4, trading places with Respiratory Protection. Patrick Kapust, Deputy Director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the list at the National Safety Council 2019 Congress & Expo this past week.

The full list below:

1) Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 6,010 violations

2) Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,671

3) Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,813

4) Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,606

5) Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,450

6) Ladders (1926.1053): 2,345

7) Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,093

8) Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,773

9) Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,743

10) Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye & Face Protection (1926.102): 1,411

Patrick left the audience with this statement:

“Look at your own workplace and see where you can find solutions,” Kapust said during the presentation. “These are common violations. They’ve been around for a while. The answers are out there.”

So, what are companies to do? Where do they start? How do they start?

As NSC President and CEO, Lorraine M. Martin, exclaimed in a recent press release: “This list should serve as a challenge for us to do better as a nation and expect more from our employers. It should also serve as a catalyst for individual employees to recommit to safety.”

What does this mean? This means Lorraine is fueled by these insights and wants to create positive change in the workplace.  – spoken like a true Change Agent.

Let’s take it a step further. What can we learn from these violations? Let’s identify 3 ways you can evoke positive change in your workplace to help eliminate incidents. These 3 key steps are taken from various valleys of past research and observations we’ve identified from our customers and the safety community as a whole.

Evaluate your current safety program

This can seem like a daunting feat. How can I evaluate my entire safety program? There’s too much to evaluate, I feel as if I’m doing it alone or I’m the only one who cares. Chances are, this is only partially true.

For safety managers, this is when you can take the opportunity to rise and become a true safety leader. You can inspire others and raise their risk awareness, communicate safety upstream and downstream, and ensure safety is top-of-mind in everyone from the c-suite to the frontline.

Start with the front-line workforce and work your way up. Understand what they need, what’s being done, and what could be done better. Evaluate everything from current PPE to lockout/tagout procedures. If you want to evoke positive change and eliminate these violations, you will find a way to make these procedures or articles better for your workforce.

Empower your front-line workforce

Empowering your front-line workforce is an integral part to tackling these violations head-on. Without empowerment to make safer, proactive choices, your workers will struggle to see the importance of eliminating these preventable injuries and in some cases, fatalities.

We discuss empowering your front-line workforce in a whitepaper titled Building a High Participation Safety Culture where it states participation is the catalyst to creating a strong safety culture.

By inspiring and empowering your workforce, they will feel accountable for their actions and understand, with guidance, how to proactively create a safer, healthier, workplace environment.

Keep the positive momentum going

Velocity. Another step mentioned in our whitepaper on Building a High Participation Safety Culture. At this point, in order to work towards eliminating those violations in your workplace, you’re no longer creating that high participation culture, you’re maintaining it.

This means not losing focus on the end goal, maintaining the momentum of positive reinforcement, and continuing to empower your frontline workforce. Bumps along the way will occur but in order to overcome them, you have to tackle them with the same passion you had when you started your journey.

Let’s sum this all up. Each year OSHA releases their top 10 violations and unfortunately, they continue to maintain a high number of preventable incidents. The key is to use this list as a catalyst for change and evaluate your workforce to draw out said change.

First, evaluate your current safety program and identify holes you can fill in. Second, empower your front-line workforce to proactively report hazards and become accountable for their actions. Third, keep the positive momentum going. Become the true safety leader we know you are and rise to the occasion.

Understand there will be hurdles, people who don’t believe in what you’re doing, protocols and procedures to surpass; but, remember to keep one common goal in mind: to eliminate preventable workplace incidents. It can take a group of people to make poor safety decisions but one person to make the right one and spark change.

Rethinking Safety

Drive employee engagement by connecting
your frontline to your boardroom.


How Turner Construction improved worker participation by working on continous improvement


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