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Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Husqvarna Construction Products N.A.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
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Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
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July 6, 2000 8:20 AM CDT

OSHA’s Most Frequently Cited

An analysis of safety and health problems in the masonry construction industry


Last year the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued 4,786 citations to mason contractors at a cost of $3,537,054. A simple response to this would be to review the standards cited and identify appropriate actions to avoid future penalties. However, there were 82 different standards violated (see the top 25 most cited in Table I.) Besides the obvious limitations of addressing all hazards in this article, there are practical considerations for implementing corrective measures. An analysis of the citations must be completed to ensure that more serious hazards are addressed first.

The nature of citations and the statistics on the standards violated will provide a focus. Consider the following: OSHA bases penalties on the severity of potential injury and the probability that injury will occur. No single standard addressing electrical hazards was among the top ten based on the number of citations. But, in dollars Standard 19260404 (Electrical, Wiring, Design and Protection) ranks seventh. The total penalties for it were $38,467. There were also a number of other electrical standards violated. The total spent by the industry on all electrical violations equals $72,472. Thus, when standards are categorized and total penalties reviewed, as illustrated with the example above, the hazard may need greater attention.

With the initial review and regardless of the data used, one hazard becomes the prime focus. Citations for one standard, Standard 19260451 (Scaffolding - General Requirements), accounted for 47% of the number of citations and 63% of the penalties. In addition, two other scaffold standards (Standard 19260454 (Scaffolding -Training Requirements (all types) and Standard 19260452 (Additional Requirements - Specific Scaffolding), rank in the top ten. A fourth standard on mobile scaffold safety added another $18,180.

All mason contractors must review their use of scaffolds. Common problems include deficiencies in both the erection and use, where the following precautionary measures must be taken:
  • Scaffolds must be built to withstand four times the intended load.

  • The ropes on suspended scaffolds must withstand six times the intended load.

  • All scaffolds must be fully planked.

  • A supported scaffold must be plumb and sit on a firm foundation.

  • Base plates and mud sills must be used.

  • If the scaffold is not tied to the structure, its maximum height to base width ratio cannot exceed 4 to 1.

  • Proper access must be provided and used.

  • Employees cannot climb the frame.

  • Employees on scaffolds above ten feet need fall protection.

  • Guardrails and/or personal fall protection is required depending on the scaffold used.

  • Employees below must be protected from falling objects. This requires a hard hat to be worn and the use of one other form of protection such as screens or mesh.

  • A critical oversight often found is the absence of a competent person. This individual must inspect the scaffold prior to each shift when the scaffold will be used.

  • Make sure all employees are trained. Anyone who may use the scaffold must receive training on the hazards, procedures to correct the hazards, handling materials on the scaffold, scaffold capacity and applicable components of the standard.
Fall Protection
Another serious problem for mason contractors is general fall protection. The OSHA standard addressing elevated surfaces, such as a floor roof, decking or formwork, is Standard 19260501 (Duty to Have Fall Protection). It ranks third in penalties and number of citations. All workers on these surfaces at 6 feet or higher must have fall protection. The type of protection is indicated by the surface and work performed such as overhand bricklaying. Options include: safety nets, personal fall arrest systems, guardrails, safety monitoring systems and controlled access zones. Contractors must become familiar with the protection which applies. An awareness of the specifications for the protection used is also needed based on the penalties received. They are for Standard 19260502 (Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices). Training is the final consideration. Failure has resulted in a number of citations for Standard 19260503 (Fall Protection Training Requirements), which ranked seventeenth, as seen in Table I.

Personal Protective Equipment
Based on penalties in the amount of $242,912, the third most serious problem facing the industry is failure to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE.) Two PPE standards can be found in the top ten: Standard 19260100 (Head Protection) and Standard 19100134 (Respiratory Protection) (see also Standard 19260103). Hard hats account for the majority of the citations. They are needed when there is danger from falling or flying objects. Perform an analysis of the hazards in an area. Make sure employees are required to wear hard hats, eye protection, hearing protection or any other PPE needed to avoid exposure to hazards present.

Special consideration should be given to respiratory protection. OSHA issued a new standard in 1998. It requires a written program implemented by a competent person, a medical evaluation, annual fit testing, proper maintenance and care of respirators and training. This standard, as well as Standard 19260055 (Gasses, Vapors, Fumes, Dusts and Mists) have received greater attention from OSHA due to a special emphasis on silica. Make sure silica dusts are controlled where possible by engineering methods, such as wet cutting. Where dusts exceed exposure limits, implement an effective respiratory protection program.

The remaining standards violated, whether grouped as a hazard category or taken individually, account for less than $100,000 in penalties per hazard. Even Hazard Communication (Standard 19260059 or Standard 19101200) ranked fourth based on number of citations, accounts for less than $30,000 in penalties. The best approach to address these standards is to review your operations and compare them with the title of the standard. If applicable, take a close look at the specific requirements. Be careful in assessing applicability. Many are obvious. The need for protecting rebar or preventing employees from working under the load of a concrete buckets as required by Standard 19260701 (Concrete / Masonry, General Requirements) or providing proper wall bracing as in Standard 19260706 (Masonry Construction) are well known.

Others are not. For example, electricity affects all trades. Simple precautions such as: removing frayed cords, insuring ground prongs are in tact, the need for a heavy duty extension cord and using ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI's) are part of the various electrical standards frequently cited.

Another point about applicability can be made with recognizing responsibility for employee actions. Defective ladders provided on the job by other contractors become a potential citation for you when used by your employees. Make sure all ladders are free of defects and employees are trained on their use in accordance with the standard. Above all, recognize your responsibility for safety. Citations can be issued for hazards which are not listed specifically in the OSHA regulations by hazard category. Standard 19260020 (Construction, General Safety and Health Provisions) requires an accident prevention program with regular inspections to identify and remove hazards. Standard 19260021 (Construction, Safety Training and Education) mandates training employees to "recognize and avoid" any hazards which may be present. Both standards can be found in the top ten. However, citations can be given regardless of the existence of any regulation. The "5A1 General Duty Clause" citations were written based on a law from the congressional act establishing OSHA. It holds employers accountable for providing a safe workplace. If you are aware or should be aware of a problem - it must be corrected.

Top Citations
Listed below are the top 25 standards which were cited by Federal OSHA for the specified SIC during the period October 1998 through September 1999. Penalties shown reflect current rather than initial amounts. For more information, consult the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 29.

Table I - Standards Cited for SIC 1741; All sizes; Federal 1741 Masonry, Stone Setting, And Other Stone Work
Rank Standard # Cited Penalty* Description
$2,243,146Scaffolding - General Requirements
164,505Scaffolding - Training Requirements (all types)
261,437Duty to Have Fall Protection
24,868Hazard Communication
156,508Head Protection
99,831Additional Requirements - Specific Scaffolding
54,050Construction, General Safety & Health Provisions
20,055Respiratory Protection
33,048Construction, Safety Training & Education
38,467Electrical, Wiring Design & Protection
25,397Eye & Face Protection
31,837Concrete/Masonry, General Requirements
14,765Elec. Wiring Methods, Components & Equipment, General Use
25,636Material Handling Equipment
11,185Fall Protection Training Requirements
2,125Gases, Vapors, Fumes, Dusts & Mists
14,982Criteria For Personal Protective Equipment
9,728Construction, Housekeeping
4,563Hazard Communication
185,00Fall Protection Systems Criteria & Practices
11,975Respiratory Protection
21,745Masonry Construction
*Dollar amounts rounded to the nearest dollar.

About the Author

Joseph O'Connor is Vice President and Director of INTEC, Inc. He currently serves as a national representative for various employer organizations participating in OSHA-ACCOSH work groups and ANSI committees.


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