2015’s Top Ten OSHA Violations
June 15, 2016 / Worker Injury
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is 35 years old in 2016, and its mission is to ensure that every worker goes home healthy and whole every single day. Because most injuries and deaths in the workplace are preventable, OSHA was formed in order to reduce their number.
Not all businesses see the benefit of an injury-free workplace, however, as evidenced from OSHA’s yearly top 10 list of workplace violations. In 2015, the ten largest fines amounted to over $10 million, and the fines were concentrated in the construction, industrial, and factory settings.
For 2015, the top 10 standards cited most often by OSHA as violated were:
- Fall protection. The standard details the circumstances under which protection is necessary and the types of protective systems that should apply. In 2015, more than 7,400 citations were issued, with 4,079 in residential construction. Fall protection is an OSHA construction jobs standard. One of the ten biggest fines came about because a 22-year-old worker fell over 30 feet. DNRB Inc. dba Fastrack Erectors in Pacific, MO, had to pay $511,000.
- Hazard communication. This standard addresses communications about and in hazardous chemical environments. In 2015, there were 5,681 violations.
- One of OSHA’s construction jobs standards details a number of regulations for temporary work structures 10 or more feet above the ground. In 2015, there were 4,681 violations of the scaffolding standard.
- Respiratory protections. The standard concerns safeguarding workers’ airways. 2015 saw 3,626 OSHA violations, notably Kehrer Brothers Construction in Okawville, IL, which was fined almost $1.8 million, and First Capital Insulations, Inc. in York, PA, which was fined $490,000. Asbestos exposure was the reason for the penalties in both cases. In another incident, Case Farms Processing, Inc. of Winesburg, OH, had a $1.87 million fine levied against them. A portion of that amount ($462,000) concerned ammonia exposure from ammonia refrigeration systems. Ammonia exposure often causes respiratory problems.
- Lockout/tagout. This standard addresses the controls required for situations involving the hazardous work of maintaining and repairing electrical equipment and machines. In 2015, there were 3,308 violations.
- Powered industrial trucks. Relating to the use of hand trucks with motors, platform lift trucks, and the like, there were 3,004 violations in 2015.
- In 2015 there were 2,732 violations of this standard.
- Electrical wiring methods. The standard spells out the grounding protocols for electrical wiring and equipment. In 2015, there were 2,624 violations.
- Machine guards. The standard addresses the safeguards that prevent certain serious and disfiguring injuries. In 2015, there were 2,540 violations. Notably, Ashley Furniture of Whitehall and Arcadia, WI, paid out nearly $2.3 million because they neglected to protect workers from machinery’s moving parts. Over 1,000 injuries resulted, including amputations. In addition, Lloyd Industries, Inc. of Montgomery, PA, was fined for not preventing dozens of crushing injuries and amputations. They were fined $822,000.
- General electrical requirements. The standard lists the safety requirements for electrical systems. In 2015, there were 2,181 violations. The retailer Dollar Tree was dinged for electrical hazards and other safety issues in their stores to the tune of $825,000.
Additional companies on the top 10 list for 2015’s biggest fines are:
- Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services (NRCS) of Omaha, NE. This company was responsible for an explosion that resulted in the death of two workers and injury of one more. The fine was $963,000.
- Hartman Construction & Equipment Inc. of Anchorage, AK. The company was fined for the death of a worker in a trenching situation, to the tune of $560,000.
- Alfa Laval of Broken Arrow, OK, was fined $477,900 for various safety hazards, including combustible dust.
When others breach their duty, we keep ours.
State and federal agencies, including OSHA, have strict guidelines and regulations to keep workers safe while they are doing their jobs. In some cases, employers might ignore these regulations or fail to ensure they are properly followed. In such a situation, a case can sometimes be made for negligence. Where machines or equipment are involved, there can also be questions of malfunctions because of manufacturer’s defects or improper maintenance.
With over 30 years’ experience handling workplace injury claims in Indiana, Stephenson Rife will put their resources to work for you. You may be eligible for compensation to assist you with medical bills and other financial obligations. If you would like to explore your options, contact Mike Stephenson at 1-317-825-5200, or use our online form. At Stephenson Rife, we believe justice matters.