OSHA's Top 10 Violations for 2023 Revealed
Failure to meet fall prevention standards is the No. 1 violation—again.
Every year, thousands of workers in the U.S. suffer injuries or even lose their lives while on the job, often due to employers failing to uphold essential safety standards. Unfortunately, 2023 is no exception to this alarming trend.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently unveiled its annual list of top safety violations.
Once again, the leading violations in 2023 were linked to fall-related incidents, an issue that has held the top spot on OSHA's list for 13 consecutive years. Last year, nearly 6,000 fall-related violations were recorded nationwide between October 1 and September 30.
In Mississippi, falls, slips, and trips accounted for nine worker fatalities in 2021, based on the most recent available data. While workers' compensation benefits offer assistance to injured workers and their families, the ultimate goal is to prevent workplace injuries altogether.
Understanding the potential hazards that employees face empowers individuals to recognize unsafe conditions and take preventive measures. To this end, here are OSHA's top 10 violations for 2023.
OSHA's top 10 safety violations
OSHA ensures workplace safety by investigating businesses. Typically, the investigations are prompted by employee complaints, serious accidents, past violations, or campaigns targeting specific industries.
Last year in the U.S., OSHA issued over 20,000 violations. In Mississippi, the types of businesses that receive the most violations often include sawmills, septic maintenance providers, food processors, lumber manufacturers, heating/plumbing services, roofing, and construction. According to OSHA, the most frequently violated safety standards last year were:
- Fall protection, general requirements - 5,980 violations. In general, employers must ensure adequate fall protection when employees work at heights of 5 or more feet.
- Hazard communication - 2,682 violations. Clear communication is important for the safe handling of hazardous materials at work. Labels and safety data sheets should be easily available to workers.
- Respiratory protection - 2,471 violations. Workers need protection from insufficient oxygen, harmful dust, fumes, mists, gasses, vapors, sprays, and asbestos, among many other risks to their respiratory health. Lung cancer, impairment, or death are possible when workers' breathing is not prioritized.
- Ladders, construction - 2,430 violations. Federal safety standards have been created for all types of ladders - extension, pole, step, platform, A-frame, etc. Poorly maintained and defective ladders are common contributing factors in construction accidents.
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction - 2,285 violations. Scaffold accidents are often caused when planking or support structures give way, employees slip or trip, or someone is struck by a falling object.
- Lockout/tagout, general industry - 2,175 violations. Controlling energy prevents accidents. Lockout-tagout procedures safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment and power surges.
- Powered industrial trucks (PITs), general industry - 1,922 violations. Most PITs are forklifts, a piece of common work equipment involved in thousands of occupational accidents annually. Injuries occur when lift trucks are mistakenly driven off loading docks, fall between docks and trailers, workers fall off elevated pallets, or they are struck by or hit by the vehicle.
- Fall protection, training requirement - 1,778 violations. Failures in fall prevention appear several times on OSHA's top violations list.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), eyes and face protection - 1,528 violations. Injuries to a worker's eyes or face can result from a single accident or long-term exposure to environmental factors or chemicals.
- Machinery and machine guarding, general requirements - 1,488 violations. Equipment manufacturers and employers often have a duty to ensure occupational machinery has required safety measures and guards attached. Guards can prevent employees from becoming ensnared or caught in spinning or crushing machinery.
How can employers prevent falls from height?
Fall protection measures are crucial in preventing worker injuries and fatalities in various industries. These measures involve implementing safety precautions and equipment to minimize the risk of falls from heights, such as:
- Guardrails and handrails: Installing guardrails and handrails along elevated walkways, platforms, and stairs provides physical barriers that prevent workers from accidentally falling off edges. For example, on construction sites, guardrails are often used around open edges of scaffolding to protect workers from falling.
- Safety nets: Safety nets are suspended below work areas to catch workers in case of a fall. They are commonly used in construction and roofing work to provide an additional layer of protection. Safety nets can significantly reduce the severity of injuries by breaking a fall.
- Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS): PFAS include components like harnesses, lanyards, and anchorage points. Workers wear a harness connected to a lanyard that, in turn, attaches to a secure anchorage point. If a fall occurs, the PFAS stops the worker's descent, preventing them from hitting the ground or other lower-level hazards.
- Guardrail systems: These are temporary or permanent railings installed on edges, openings, and other hazardous areas to prevent workers from accidentally falling. Guardrail systems are commonly used in construction, manufacturing, and warehouse settings.
- Warning lines: In some cases, warning lines are used to demarcate hazardous areas, alerting workers to the proximity of an edge or fall hazard. Workers are required to stay behind the warning line unless they have proper fall protection in place.
In addition to these safety measures, proper training is essential to ensure that workers understand the risks associated with working at heights and how to use fall protection equipment effectively. Training can include recognizing fall hazards, inspecting equipment, and knowing how to respond in case of a fall.
Seeking legal help after a workplace accident
At Tabor Law Firm, P.A., our Mississippi workers' compensation lawyers are dedicated to helping injured employees and their families find their way forward after a work accident. We understand the challenges you face after a workplace injury and are here to provide the legal support and guidance you need to navigate the Mississippi workers' compensation system.
Siblings Jonathan C. Tabor and Leigh-Ann Tabor are dedicated to fighting for individuals injured at work. Our workers' compensation attorneys use their combined experience to hold corporations and insurance companies accountable. We have a thorough knowledge of the state's workers' compensation laws and help clients successfully navigate the system to get the benefits they deserve.
If you've been injured on the job in Mississippi, don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. With offices in Ridgeland and Jackson, we offer legal representation to injured workers throughout Mississippi.