OSHA has released the list of its top ten cited standards for the 2013 fiscal year and once again, the fall protection standard has held onto its top position with 8,241 violations. Fall protection was the top cited standard in 2012 and 2011 list as well. In fact, the order of the first four standards in the list – fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, and respiratory protection – remains unchanged since 2011, EHS reports.
Hazard Communication could become the most violated standard in the future
Currently at the second place, its position on the list is no surprise to safety experts, who think Hazard Communication may soon become the most cited standard in the coming years. The standard’s recent revision to align it with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System (GHS) could contribute to this ascent. New standards in place would require OSHA to follow it up closely, bringing any deviation to the forefront. According to the new hazcom standard, employers will have to train workers on GHS’s new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format by December.
Effect of government shutdown on OSHA
The list was presented at the 2013 National Safety Congress and Expo held at the McCormick Place in Chicago. Unlike every year, the OSHA official who typically presents the agency’s list of cited standards was not in attendance, due to the government shutdown. While presenting the preliminary list, Kyle Morrison, senior associate editor for the National Safety Council’s Safety and Health magazine says, “This year is different. Due to the recent government shutdown, an OSHA official will not be here.”
As the troublesome government shutdown enters its second week, OSHA has cut down its full-time workforce from 2,300 to 236 employees, furloughing more than 90% of its personnel. In a memorandum issued last month, OSHA Administrator David Michaels had already signaled that the agency would close down most of its operations, except for responding to the “most significant workplace emergencies, including workplace fatalities and catastrophes as well as employee complaints related to hazards that present a high risk of death or serious physical harm.”