Construction is among the most dangerous occupations in this country. Workers have a 75 percent chance of suffering a serious injury over a 45-year career span and their likelihood of being fatally injured in construction accidents is 1-in-200. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released the most 10 common safety violations in 2019 which documented these risks.
Falling is the leading cause of death. Construction falls comprise over one-third of all worker deaths in the private sector. Fall protection was the most violated standard with 7,014 citations last year.
Employers should set up controls to protect workers from falls from overhead platforms, floor holes and elevated workstations. Fall protection equipment must be provided to workers who are at least six feet above lower levels.
Next, there were 4,170 citations for hazard communication. Potentially hazard chemicals should contain safety and health risk warnings. Employers must also notify workers about their duties in an emergency.
Scaffolding violations was third with 3,228 violations. Scaffoldings and their components must support their own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load. Causes of scaffolding accidents involve plank or flooring collapse, slips, and falls, and defective scaffold setups.
Other violations were in this list. Lockout/tagout violations involve starting up equipment which releases stored energy. This causes serious injuries when a wiring short shocks workers engaged in repairs, released steam from turning valves burns workers and a sudden release of a jammed conveyer belt causes hands or arm injuries.
Respiratory protection violations can cause problems when workers breathe air contaminated with harmful contaminants such as dust, fog, fumes, gas, spay or vapors.
Over half of all deaths involving ladders occur in the construction industry. Ladder violations were the sixth highest violation. This involves inexperienced workers, inadequate training, and improper use. Powered industrial trucks was next and presented many work hazards.
Meeting training requirements for fall protection was eighth. This was followed by machine guarding citations involving hazards from improperly employed barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices and other machine guarding. Failure to provide adequate eye and face protection against small particles or objects that can cause eye injuries was tenth.
OSHA may impose up to $13,494 per violation and willful or repeated violations may go up to $134,937 per violation. Attorneys can also help injured workers pursue their compensation rights.