Small Business Brief


5 Common OSHA Violations: Is Your Workplace Guilty?

Did you know the most common worksite safety issues show up over and over across the country and the world?

The National Safety Council (NSC) team conduct safety audits in many companies. But the fact is, they see the same hazards almost everywhere they go. Is your workplace guilty of these violations? 

Safety pros can get the latest education and training at the Safety 2019 conference. Keep reading to learn the 5 most common OSHA violations.

Most Common OSHA Violations

Workplace safety demands employers know what is and isn’t safe for their employees.

Common problems found by OSHA relate to height, housekeeping, chemicals, electrical, and forklifts. Let’s examine each issue.

1. Working High Above the Ground Level

Hazards related to working at height appear often. In fact, 14% of fatalities in 2014 involved falls to a lower level. It’s no surprise scaffolding and ladder violations are common.

In 2017, OSHA reported 381 out of 971 deaths in construction were from falls. That’s 39.2% of total deaths in construction.

Height hazards can start from a lack of fall protection understanding. Employers must provide protection. This includes fall protection gear, safety gates, and training.

If employees aren’t trained or don’t know how gear works, they aren’t safe. A written fall protection procedure is important. Mandatory training for employees working at height is vital for safety.

Locate all areas you need fall protection and enforce the use of gear. Regular audits keep everyone safe. Check equipment and anchor points. Inspect gear. Remove and replaced worn out equipment.

2. Electrical Issues

Did you know extension cords are a common problem?  NSC consultants often find inappropriate use of extension cords. It could be many extension cords or power strips used in a daisy-chain.

Sometimes a temporary fix becomes a permanent fixture. An extension cord employed for several weeks it becomes an OSHA violation. It’s one thing to plug in a fan for a day. Three extension cords used to power a machine is something else.

Another concern is using the right cord for the situation. Make sure wattage matches usage. A power strip not rated for all the appliances you plug into it is a hazard.

When a business needs many extension cords to operate it’s time to call in an electrician.

3. Housekeeping

Housekeeping is often overlooked. Yet, clutter blocking fire exits, walkways, and emergency exits are dangerous. It’s also an OSHA violation.

Don’t over stack racks in a warehouse. If items block sprinkler heads the water can’t put out a fire.

Housekeeping includes cleaning up spills. Standing water leads to slips. Clutter causes people to trip. Both situations lead to falls and trips to the hospital.

If housekeeping and sanitation crews are behind schedule, everyone should pitch in. Clean up any spills that don’t involve chemicals. Put away clutter. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

Train employees and management on best practices for efficient warehouse and office housekeeping. If the problem needs a special resolution, let the supervisor know right away.

4. Forklifts

Forklift are useful, but they can be dangerous, too. When drivers take shortcuts, like overloading the lift, problems occur. A distracted forklift driver is as scary as a distracted driver on the highway.

The result can be damage to the warehouse, or worse, and injured employee. Train all forklift drivers in safety measures.

Another important aspect of forklift safety is regular maintenance of the vehicles. Make sure forklifts are safe to operate.

Create designated walkways in areas where forklifts are in use to protect pedestrians.

5. Chemicals

Often companies hang on to chemicals because they were expensive. Or, they may use them sometime in the future. The reality is, stored chemicals are a serious hazard.

Don’t store chemicals you don’t need. Even small amounts of chemicals can become unstable over time. That little bottle can degrade into an explosive.

If your company buys or uses chemicals, put a process in place for storage and disposal. Maintain inventory that includes dates and safety protocols.

Aim for a Productive Workplace

Avoid these common OSHA violations for a safer environment for your employees. Safe employees are more productive.

Get more productivity and small business advice here.