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What are the most commonly cited OSHA violations?

Every Colorado business has a duty to comply with the rules and regulations of OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Sometimes, though, that can be challenging. There are so many OSHA regulations that even businesses with the best of intentions can sometimes miss the mark. Knowing the most commonly cited violations can help businesses understand what inspectors are looking for. It can also help employees know which hazards pose the biggest risks.

The most commonly cited violation is fall protection, which is defined under OSHA code 1926.501. The code defines a number of instances in which an employer must provide guardrails, safety nets, harnesses or other fall protection features. It would be difficult to memorize every possible fall risk that is listed. However, employers can protect themselves and their employees by installing workplace safety measures for workspaces that are at least 6 feet above ground. Six feet is the threshold that OSHA uses to define whether a risk is present. If there's a possibility of a fall of at least 6 feet, then safety nets, guardrails, harnesses and other fall protection devices should be in place.

The second most commonly cited violation is for hazard communication, which is defined in code 1910.1200. This code requires that all hazardous materials must be clearly and appropriately labeled. It also mandates that employers must have a hazardous material communications program to keep workers fully informed about the materials that they're handling. The third most commonly cited violation is for code 1926.451, which covers scaffolding. It says that all scaffolding must carry its own weight plus four times the maximum intended load applied to it.

Workers who suffer injuries on the job can apply for workers' compensation to cover any expenses related to their injuries. Also, OSHA should be made aware of the injury so they can investigate whether it occurred as a result of code violations. An OSHA violation could play a major role in determining whether the workers' compensation request is approved.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards", November 22, 2014

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