OSHA’s Most Frequently Cited
An analysis of safety and health problems in the masonry construction industry
By Joe O'Connor
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.
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.
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.
|Table I - Standards Cited for SIC 1741; All sizes; Federal 1741 Masonry, Stone Setting, And Other Stone Work|
|Rank Standard||# Cited||Penalty*||Description|
|$2,243,146||Scaffolding - General Requirements|
|164,505||Scaffolding - Training Requirements (all types)|
|261,437||Duty to Have Fall Protection|
|99,831||Additional Requirements - Specific Scaffolding|
|54,050||Construction, General Safety & Health Provisions|
|33,048||Construction, Safety Training & Education|
|38,467||Electrical, Wiring Design & Protection|
|25,397||Eye & Face Protection|
|31,837||Concrete/Masonry, General Requirements|
|14,765||Elec. Wiring Methods, Components & Equipment, General Use|
|25,636||Material Handling Equipment|
|11,185||Fall Protection Training Requirements|
|2,125||Gases, Vapors, Fumes, Dusts & Mists|
|14,982||Criteria For Personal Protective Equipment|
|185,00||Fall Protection Systems Criteria & Practices|
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.