Construction can be a dangerous job. That’s why the rules established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are so important. Even construction companies that try to create a safe environment may sometimes be guilty of common violations – and have to pay the price in penalties. Now there’s a new rule that may lead to even more issues.
The Top Construction Site Violations
OSHA ranks the most common violations by the number of citations issues each year. From October 2015 to September 2016, on a federal level, OSHA cited construction sites for the following standard violations the most often.
- Duty to have fall protection: OSHA issued 6,520 citations. Penalties totaled $24,176,924.
- General requirements: OSHA issued 3,751 citations. Penalties totaled $8,479,140.
- Ladders: OSHA issued 2,472 citations. Penalties totaled $4,632,033.
- Training requirements: OSHA issued 1.461 citations. Penalties totaled $1,845,167.
- Eye and face protection: OSHA issued 1,363 citations. Penalties totaled $2,720,636.
- Hazard communication: OSHA issued 978 citations. Penalties totaled $558,657.
- Head protection: OSHA issued 881 citations. Penalties totaled $1,600,557.
- General safety and health provisions: OSHA issued 866 citations. Penalties totaled $1,767,746.
- Aerial lifts: OSHA issued 823 citations. Penalties totaled $1,834,901.
- Fall protection systems criteria and practices: OSHA issued 719 citations. Penalties totaled $1,427,642.
Note that some standards that ranked lower on the list based on the number of citations actually carried higher penalties. The eleventh most cited standard is specific excavation requirements. Even though there were only 691 citations issued, the penalties totaled more than $2 million.
Overall, there were 29,789 citations issued, with penalties totaling $69,729,501. That’s an average of about $2,340 per citation.
A New Compliance Issue
In 2016, OSHA announced a new final rule with big implications for the construction industry.
The rule is designed to protect workers from respirable crystalline silica. According to the OSHA Fact Sheet, approximately two million construction workers are exposed to this material, which can cause silicosis, lung cancer, other respiratory diseases and kidney diseases.
The new standard requires construction companies to take measures to protect workers from dangerous exposure to respirable crystalline silica. These measures must include a written exposure control plan with a person in charge of implementing it, a restriction of housekeeping practices that cause exposure, training for workers, recordkeeping and medical exams.
Enforcement of the rule was delayed until September 23, 2017. Only time will tell whether the new standard will make the list of mostly frequent citations in the future.