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Fall Protection Remains OSHA’s #1 Safety Standard Violation in 2014

Oct 21, 2014 6:06:33 AM

Despite years of enforcement efforts and initiatives to raise awareness, duty to have fall protection (1926.501) remains OSHA’s most frequently cited violation for FY 2014.  Even more disheartening is this fact:  fall protection violations have led OSHA’s top ten violations list for four consecutive years.

The entire list with relevant violated standards and the number of citations is as follows:

Violated Standard

Violation Code


Fall Protection



Hazard Communication






Respiratory Protection



Lockout – Tagout



Powered Industrial Trucks



Electrical – Wiring Methods






Machine Guarding



Electrical – General Requirements




The story behind OSHA’s Top Ten List may appear simple, but many folks miss the point.  The key takeaway from OSHA’s list isn’t which violations moved up, down, or remained the same.  To our way of thinking, the real question is this:  how can we use this information to make workplaces safer for our employees?

Use the list to identify the hazards specific to your facility
Taking time to carefully analyze this list as it relates to your own facility won’t ensure you pass your next OSHA inspection with flying colors, but it is a start.  Do you have hazardous machinery that requires lockout/tagout during maintenance and repair?  Does your facility use hazardous materials that require the use of respiratory protection?  Do your employees work at heights?  Remember, just because your employees don’t routinely work at heights doesn’t mean that you can ignore fall protection.  If your maintenance staff or outside contractors inspect and repair overhead cranes or rooftop HVAC equipment, you may have fall hazards that could earn an OSHA citation.

Don’t Permit Your Company—Or Your Employees—To Become a Statistic
The best way to avoid citations and accidents is to adopt a proactive stance on safety.  Invite a fall protection company to perform a hazard assessment.  During this process, a safety engineer can observe employees performing their tasks, and recommend corrective actions if needed.   A fall protection safety specialist can also ensure your company is maintaining proper records to satisfy OSHA inspectors.

Safety Is No Accident–It Starts with a Plan
Most industrial facilities have at least one area that contains a clearly identified fall hazard, and in some in instances, we see numerous OSHA violations.  By partnering with a fall protection company, you can start prioritizing unsafe areas and begin taking steps to remediate fall hazards.  You should also have a clearly developed plan for rescue and descent in the event of a fall.  All too often, rescue and descent procedures are ignored—or company officials mistakenly assume dialing 911 is THE PLAN.  Waiting until an accident happens can have catastrophic consequences.

Next Steps
If you have read this far, maintaining employee safety is obviously a concern.  Study the OSHA Top Ten List, take a stroll through your facility, and make arrangements with a fall protection company to perform a hazards assessment.  Taking these steps and developing a true fall safety plan will help you sleep better at night—and it gives your employees the best chance of coming home safely  after each shift.