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September 23, 2022
Fall protection remains OSHA's top-cited standard

The construction industry fall protection standard remains the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) most frequently cited standard for the 12th year in a row, the agency announced on September 20. Patrick Kapust, acting director of OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented a list of preliminary figures for fiscal year (FY) 2022—the fiscal year ends September 30—during the National Safety Council’s (NSC) 2022 Safety Congress & Expo in San Diego, California.

Standards in the agency’s top 10 most frequently cited standards remained the same, but their relative positions changed. Fall protection was followed by the agency’s general industry hazard communication and respiratory protection standards. The top 10 included 4 other construction industry standards and 3 other general industry standards.

The top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety and health standards so far for FY 2022 are:

  • Fall Protection General Requirements (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1926.501): 5,260 violations;
  • Hazard Communication (§1910.1200): 2,424 violations;
  • Respiratory Protection (§1910.134): 2,185 violations;
  • Ladders (§1926.1053): 2,143 violations;
  • Scaffolding (§1926.451): 2,058 violations;
  • Lockout/Tagout (§1910.147): 1,977 violations;
  • Powered Industrial Trucks (§1910.178): 1,749 violations;
  • Fall Protection Training Requirements (§1926.503): 1,556 violations;
  • Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection (§1926.102): 1,401 violations; and
  • Machine Guarding (§1910.212): 1,370 violations.

“OSHA’s annual Top 10 list helps define trends so safety professionals can find the appropriate solutions,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine Martin said in an NSC statement.

“Despite advancements in workplace safety, we continue to see the same types of violations each year,” Martin added. “It’s more important than ever employers seek education and resources to keep their workers safe.”

OSHA FY 2022 enforcement

OSHA enforcement actions in FY 2022 have included:

  • Extension of the agency’s COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) for groceries and supermarkets, health care, meat and poultry processing, and other industries;
  • An NEP for indoor and outdoor heat-related hazards, unveiled on April 13; and
  • Plans for 1,000 excavation and trenching inspections in response to an uptick in fatalities.

The COVID-19 NEP, set to expire July 7, was extended indefinitely. Industries targeted by the COVID-19 NEP include correctional facilities, discount department stores, restaurants, and warehouses and storage facilities, as well as groceries and supermarkets, health care, and meat and poultry processing.

Industries targeted by the heat-related hazards NEP include those in the agricultural, construction, and manufacturing sectors, as well as automobile dealerships, postal service, and freight and rail transportation. The heat hazards NEP allows agency compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) to make self-referrals, initiating inspections of outdoor work environments in plain view. The NEP also accepts referrals from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

OSHA has had an excavation and trenching hazards NEP since October 1, 2018, but announced its pledge of 1,000 inspections in July. 2022 has seen a 68 percent increase in excavation and trenching fatalities over 2021.

In addition to existing regional emphasis programs (REPs) for powered industrial trucks and warehousing and storage, OSHA added a warehousing and storage REP in Region 3 (Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) on August 17 focused on ergonomic and forklift safety and heat hazards.

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