The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps records not only of the most frequently cited standards overall, but also within particular industries. An analysis of the most recent statistics from OSHA reveals the top standards cited in the fiscal year 2020 for the construction industry (NAICS 23). Many of these recurring violations are associated with severe workplace hazards, making it all the more vital to take steps to address these topics within your organization. Here are some of the most common (and expensive) construction OSHA violations from this past year, as well as best practices for preventing such health and safety concerns:
Requirements for protective systems
(29 CFR 1926.652)
This standard, which had an average cost per violation (ACV) totaling $7,293 and was cited 429 times this past year, refers to trench safety. Trenches at your construction site that are more than 5 feet deep and not made entirely of solid rock must implement one of three protective systems to prevent cave-ins:
- Sloping – This process reduces the risk of cave-ins by sloping the soil of the trench back from the trench bottom. Slope angles will vary depending on the type of soil around the trench.
- Shoring – This process involves installing aluminum, hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. Shoring systems typically consist of posts, wales, struts and sheeting.
- Shielding – This process refers to the use of trench boxes or other types of supports to avoid soil cave-ins. These shields and supports are typically designed or approved by a registered professional.
Duty to have fall protection
(29 CFR 1926.501)
This standard, which had an ACV totaling $5,435 and was cited 4,323 times this past year, refers to identifying fall hazards and providing protections from those hazards when needed (any time employees must work at a height of 6 feet or more). With this in mind, be sure to provide several forms of fall protection for your employees—including guardrails, safety nets, fall arrest systems, protective equipment and routine safety training.
Specific excavation requirements
(29 CFR 1926.651)
This standard, which had an ACV totaling $4,864 and was cited 562 times this past year, refers to the practice of providing safe atmospheres, emergency response and installations of access/egress for the structural stability of surface or underground excavations. Specifically, it’s critical to locate nearby utilities, establish adequate means of exit and entry, ensure protection from vehicles, conduct atmospheric monitoring, provide proper rescue equipment and implement measures to keep workers safe from falling materials during excavation projects at the construction site.
Information abstracted from Zywave’s “Construction Risk Advisor – Feb 2021” article.