What kinds of trouble have California employers gotten into recently? According to OSHA reports for 2015, the total number of citations increased since 2014. But the types of most commonly issued citations are basically the same, indicating that employers are still making many of the same mistakes they have in the past.
Last year, Cal-OSHA issued almost 2,000 general citations that fall under the IIPP heading (fortunately, less than 7% were serious violations). More than 1,700 Heat Illness Prevention violations were issued as well. This is not surprising since California has placed a great deal of focus on preventing heat related fatalities and illnesses in the past few years and inspectors are on the lookout for safety issues. Construction Illness and Injury Prevention was #3 on the list with over 1,200 violations.
Most Serious Violations Are Linked to Deadly Hazards
The distant fourth place runner up involved requirements to clean, repair, service, set up and adjust prime movers, machinery & equipment. What makes this category stand out is that more than one out of three violations was considered serious.
Which categories have an even higher percentage of serious violations? Not surprisingly, personal fall arrest systems, table saws, and belt/pulley drive guarding all topped 75%. Between gravity, sharp edges, and moving parts, these safety issues have the potential to lead to very serious injuries and fatalities.
Employers Are Appealing Many Citations
The list of most frequently appealed violations is a little different. Apparently, employers find it particularly grating when they are cited for certain types of safety order violations. Most of the categories of appealed citations have to do with appropriate guarding of moving parts on hazardous equipment. For example, safety violations regarding belt and pulley drives, abrasive wheels, and table saws all made the list. In general, failure to guard points of operation was high on the list of appealed safety violations.
From OSHA’s perspective, it is probably easy to find such safety problems on a typical work site. The agency’s inspectors see crush, laceration, and amputation injuries related to moving parts on a regular basis. In contrast, employers who have gotten lucky and had few or no injuries related to machinery may think their equipment and procedures are reasonably safe in their current condition.
Conflicting Opinions over Hazard Assessment and Administrative Responsibilities
Permit required confined spaces accounted for another frequently contested violation category. This is not surprising since confined space safety is one of the more complex OSHA regulations to follow properly. Without an examination of a space by a qualified professional, it’s easy to miss safety issues.
One surprising item on the contested citation list was the percentage of appeals about failure to report serious injuries and fatalities. Employers may not realize that there are strict requirements to disclose such incidents to OSHA in a timely fashion. However, only 1 serious violation was issued in this category for 2015, making it evident that this is usually an administrative oversight rather than a willful flouting of the rules.
To reduce the chances that your organization will make the list of cited companies in 2016, contact DKF Solutions to review your safety procedures and protocols today.