Founded in 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more commonly known as OSHA, is a division of the United States Department of Labor that regulates workplace safety. OSHA has a number of safety standards in place designed to prevent on-the-job accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
However, despite the agency's best efforts—and the threat of fines facing employers found in violation of safety standards—thousands of workers are injured or killed each year in preventable workplace accidents.
Unfortunately, the most commonly-violated OSHA safety standards are those that carry the biggest risk of serious injury or death for workers. And, sadly, construction workers are particularly at risk, accounting for one out of every five worker deaths in 2015.
If you were injured in a construction accident caused by a co-worker or employer who violated OSHA safety standards, you may be eligible for compensation.
Despite being responsible for overseeing the health and safety of 130 million American workers at more than eight million private industry work sites, OSHA is a surprisingly small federal agency that boasts just 10 regional offices, 85 local area offices, and approximately 2,100 inspectors. If it sounds like OSHA's compliance officers are spread incredibly thin, it's because they are; there is just one officer for every 59,000 workers.
Staffing challenges notwithstanding, OSHA conducted nearly 32,000 federal inspections and more than 43,000 state inspections for a total of approximately 75,000 compliance checks in fiscal year 2016.
All of the agency's hard work has a significant impact on workplace safety in the United States. For example, the number of Americans killed on the job has fallen, on average, from nearly 40 deaths per day in 1970 to just 13 per day in 2015. On-the-job injuries and illnesses have also dropped: in 2015, there were three instances of worker injuries and illnesses per 100 workers, compared to 10.9 incidents of injury or illness per 100 workers in 1970.
Top 10 Most-Violated OSHA Standards
OSHA's list of the most-violated standards is like a broken record, with the same safety infractions appearing again and again, year after year. In 2016, the agency's most commonly violated standards were:
1. Fall protection: Falls are a leading cause of workplace injury and death, especially in the construction industry.
2. Hazard communication: OSHA has an ongoing campaign designed to inform and educate both workers and employers on safety issues, but many employers don't follow-through on proper training of staff and contract personnel.
3. Scaffolds safety issues: A scaffold erected improperly can be dangerous, putting workers at risk of a serious fall.
4. Respiratory protection: This vital piece of safety equipment helps workers avoid illness and injuries related to the inhalation of toxic substances, such as silica or asbestos. However, not all employers provide this equipment, or training on how to use it correctly.
5. Lockout/tagout: When employers fail to implement proper lockout/tagout precautions, heavy machinery has the potential to start suddenly while being repaired. Taking advantage of safe lockout/tagout procedures prevents serious injuries, such as broken bones, crushed limbs, and amputations.
6. Powered industrial trucks: The high number of safety violations, injuries, and fatalities associated with powered industrial trucks suggests that workers don't receive the training necessary to operate these vehicles safely.
7. Ladder safety issues: When used improperly, ladders can increase a construction worker's risk of a serious or fatal fall.
8. Machine guarding: Employers who fail to install guards around moving machinery parts put their employees at risk for amputation injuries or even death.
9. and 10. Electrical wiring and general electrical requirements: When employers decide not to provide the required electrical safety training, they put workers in jeopardy for fire and electrocution-related injuries.
Were You Injured in a Construction Accident?
If you were injured in a construction accident that wasn't your fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact the award-winning legal team with McGartland Law today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial analysis of your potential construction accident case.