OSHA’s Top Ten Violations

Lockout Tagout logo, 3D illustration

“YOU CAN BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE MACHINE GUARDING STANDARD ON MONDAY AND OUT OF COMPLIANCE ON WEDNESDAY, BECAUSE EVERY TIME AN EMPLOYEE USES A MACHINE, THE GUARD MUST BE READJUSTED.” Hartley Webb, safety management consultant with MEMIC

The safety of woodworking machines is a top concern for WMIA members. After reading the latest edition of Safety Decisions Magazine1, I thought it would be a good idea to provide a current picture of OSHA’s inspections of workplaces (please keep in mind that this is a complete study and not specific to the woodworking machinery industry), by highlighting a few of the pertinent findings of the report. The current top 10 list was compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by OSHA in fiscal year 2016. “Year after year,” says OSHA, “our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.”

The article goes on to state that despite the legal duty of employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace, more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job each year, and about 3 million are injured. OSHA maintains that “If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputa­tions, and hospitalizations would drastically decline.”

The top 10 hazards based on OSHA violations:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout (LOTO)
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

The Safety Decisions Magazine article provides the statistics for each hazard, with the number of violations for each sub-category. I chose two to highlight here that I felt were most relevant to the industry.

5. LOTO in general industry (OSHA 1910.147)

Total violations: 3,406

Top 5 sections by number of violations:

  1. General procedures. 644
  2. Energy control program. 40
  3. Employers shall conduct periodic inspections. 376
  4. Training. 289
  5. Each authorized employee shall receive training in the recognition of applicable hazardous energy sources. 196

8. Machine guarding in general industry (OSHA 1910.212)

Total violations: 2,448

Top 5 sections by number of violations:

  1. One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees from hazards in the machine area. 1,489
  2. Point of operation. 616
  3. Anchoring fixed machinery. 156
  4. General requirements. 69
  5. Exposure of blades. When the periphery of the blades of a fan is less than 7ft above the floor or working level, the blades shall be guarded. 49

WMIA, as the ANSI-accredited Administrator of the US Technical Advisory Group to the ISO subcommittee developing woodworking machinery safety standards, has cultivated a working relationship with OSHA over this past year as we continue forward with our efforts to get international standards for woodworking machinery safety adopted as national standards. While each organization serves a different role – OSHA being the government agency that enforces workplace safety for employees, and ANSI/ISO publishing voluntary industry safety standards from an engineering/design perspective to improve the safety of the machine – both share the same end-goal which is a safer experience for the end-user of the machinery.

1 Sacks, Evelyn. “OSHA Top 10.” Safety Decisions Magazine, pp. 12-16,    ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/resource/summerfall-2017-issue/. Accessed 11 Aug. 2017.