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Top ten violations for Fiscal Year 2011

Each year OSHA's top ten most frequently cited violations remain relatively unchanged, but the order shifts somewhat. In FY 2011, fall protection moved from number two to the number one spot, inching by scaffolding. Here are the top ten:

  1. Fall Protection (1926.501) - 7,139
  2. Scaffolding (1926.451) - 7,069
  3. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) - 6,538
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) - 3,944
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) - 3,639
  6. Electrical - Wiring Methods (1910.305) - 3,584
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) - 3,432
  8. Ladders (1926.1053) - 3,244
  9. Electrical - General Requirements (1910.303) - 2,863
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212) - 2,728

Information in cranes and derricks, hazcom rules clarified in letters of interpretation

In an Oct. 13 letter to the Edison Electric Institute, OSHA clarified voltage information exchange requirements and options for de-energizing power lines in the cranes and derricks rule. The letter fulfills OSHA's obligation under a settlement agreement reached after EEI challenged OSHA in October 2010, arguing for an exception to the rule for digger derricks.

An Oct. 18 letter makes clear that a provision in the Hazard Communication Standard does not pre-empt state tort claims.

Final OSHA Rule Permits Oral SOX Complaints

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) whistle-blower claims may be filed orally, according to final rules issued on Nov. 3, 2011.When a complaint is made orally, OSHA will prepare a written complaint. In addition, if a complainant is not able to file the complaint in English, the complaint may be filed in any language. And with the consent of an employee, a complaint may be filed by anyone on the employee's behalf.

OSHA releases 12 educational videos aimed at the construction industry

Two to four minutes in length, these animated videos cover falls in construction, workers who are struck by vehicles and heavy equipment, sprain and strain injuries, trenching and excavation hazards, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Available in English and Spanish, the videos are written for workers and employers, including workers with limited English proficiency.

The videos are located at (Spanish-language videos are available at

OSHA to launch Nursing Home National Emphasis Program (NEP)

An increase in the number of injuries requiring days away from work in the health care industry has spurred OSHA to plan a launch of a nursing home NEP in the next few months, aimed at back injuries from patient handling; bloodborne pathogen exposure; workplace violence and slips, trips and falls.

Recent fines and awards

Grocery chain bakery section cited for unhealthy working conditions - Rochester, NY

Wegman's Food Market, Inc. faces $195,200 in proposed fines, chiefly for inadequate safeguards to prevent the unintended startup of machinery during maintenance. Inspections by OSHA's Buffalo area office found that Wegmans failed to develop, utilize and follow lockout/tagout procedures and to adequately train workers on hazards and procedures related to lockout/tagout hazards at this facility.

Pet food production and packaging facility faces $758,000 fine for dust and noise exposure - Galva, IL

All-Feed Processing & Packaging Inc., headquartered in Alpha, IL, was cited for 23 safety and health violations at its pet food production and packaging facility in Galva, including willful violations of OSHA's air contaminant, respiratory protection and hearing conservation standards. Some violations were cited under OSHA's "general duty" clause, including failing to provide appropriate fire and explosion protection in locations where concentrations of combustible dust existed. Proposed fines total $758,450.

Contractor faces $161,000 in fines for cave-in hazard - Boston, MA

Walsh Corp., a contractor based in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards for failing to protect an employee at a Hanover work site against cave-in and "struck-by" hazards. The contractor faces a total of $161,000 in proposed fines.

Manufacturer faces $177,000 in fines for violation of workplace safety standards - Pomfret, CT

The Pomfret cable manufacturer, Loos & Co., Inc., faces a total of $177,000 in proposed fines for 29 alleged violations of workplace safety standards. Among the cited hazards were untrained employees working on live electrical equipment without adequate personal protective equipment; ungrounded lamps and electrical receptacles; damaged and misused electrical equipment and cords; excessive noise levels and the lack of controls to reduce noise levels; improper dispensing of flammable liquids; inadequate eyewash facilities for employees working with chemicals; unlabeled containers of hazardous chemicals; and exit routes arranged so employees would have to travel toward high-hazard areas when exiting the plant in an emergency.

Food manufacturer fined more than $400,000 for exposing workers to noise and machinery hazards - Dallas, TX

OSHA fined Bridgford Foods Corp. $422,600 and cited the company for 27 safety and health violations including failing to establish and maintain a hearing conservation program for workers exposed to noise hazards beyond the permissible exposure limit, and failing to establish a lockout/tagout program for energy sources to protect workers from machines starting up unexpectedly. OSHA has placed Bridgford in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.