OSHA’s Top 10 Violations List for 2011

Attention Dealers!!   OSHA recently announced its top 10 most frequently cited violations in America’s workplaces.  Every year, OSHA compiles injury information from businesses across the country to identify injury trends, the costs associated with these injuries, and what American businesses can do to promote safer workplaces.  The top 5 violations are highlighted in more detail since these areas impact dealerships often. 

Why is this so important to you? 

It’s important because these violations show a direct correlation between workplace safety hazards and serious injuries/deaths in American Workplaces.  If these hazards are not controlled in your workplace, then you are at risk for serious injuries AND costly claims.

Topping the list of most cited violations is “Fall Protection”, which happens to be the leading loss driver for the VADA Workers Compensation program.  In 2011 alone, the program incurred 193 falls at nearly $1 Million in claim costs.

What do the claim trends look like in your dealership?  You may be surprised at what you find. Take a look at the top 10 violations listed below.  Do you have adequate controls in your dealership to protect your employees from harm?

Most Cited Violations of 2011

1.  Fall Protection  – 7,139 OSHA violations, 260 fatalities

Dealerships have employees working from heights more than realized.  Maintenance staff frequently works from ladders and lifts.  Body shop workers and technicians work from ladders, scaffolding, and racks. There are also fall hazards in parts departments, especially where there are mezzanines. OSHA requires fall protection whenever working at heights above 6 ft. Fall protection may include a spotter with a ladder, or even full fall arrest system, depending on the task at hand.

Let’s talk for a minute about another reason for falls- Wet/slippery floor surfaces.  This is a leading cause for serious falls in dealerships.  Slip/falls from wet/slippery surfaces comprise 60% of injury costs.  It is extremely important that floors be kept clean and dry.  A floor cleaning routine should be established, and an Inclement Weather Procedure for ice/snow should be pre-planned before approaching storms.  Water drainage and application of tire shine can also impact slip resistancy. Porters are a good source to help with maintaining good housekeeping.

2.  Scaffolding–  7,069 OSHA violations                       

Scaffolding is commonly used in construction industries, but not always.  Scaffolding is used in many body shops, particularly for repairing commercial vehicles and large trucks.  Maintenance staff in dealerships may also use scaffolding, scissor-lifts and man-lifts to gain access to roof tops, change light bulbs, make ceiling repairs, etc.  So don’t think that dealerships are immune from scaffolding hazards.  Work at heights requires use of fall protection equipment, or in some cases, scissor-lifts/man-lifts with secured siding is acceptable.  The key is to check the OSHA standard found at www.OSHA.gov.

3.  Hazard Communication– 6,538 OSHA violations                

Hazard Communication is also referred to as “Right To Know” and involves making employees aware of potential hazards in the workplace.  Most of these violations involve not having a written Hazard Communication Program, lack of a safety training program, and availability of Safety Data Sheets.                   

Make sure your dealership has the following:  

  • Written Hazard Communication Program detailing roles and responsibilities
  • Labeling of containers and accessibility to Safety Data Sheets
  • Employee training

 The OSHA website is a good place to seek guidance in development of this program.  www.osha.gov

4.  Respiratory Protection– 3,944 OSHA violations                              

Most respiratory protection violations come from employees who do not wear respirators when warranted.  Dealerships typically produce situations where respiratory protection is needed, such as sanding and painting in body shops or use of hazardous chemicals in service centers.  Dealerships are required to provide technicians, body techs, and painters with appropriate respiratory protection, respiratory training, and medical monitoring.

 The key is to check your Safety Data Sheets. Chemicals come in many shapes and forms i.e. liquids, solids, dusts, gases, fumes.   The Safety Data Sheet will offer directions for personal protection specific to the task and exposure impacting the employee.

5.  Control of Hazardous Energy Sources– (Lock Out/Tag Out)-  3,639 OSHA violations

The term “Lock Out/Tag Out” is often referred to as a maintenance or repair issue, and for that reason, the concept is frequently overlooked.  LO/TO is a very important procedure that should be established at every dealership.  LO/TO involves completely removing an energy source from powered equipment so that the equipment absolutely cannot operate. This is necessary if equipment is being serviced, repaired, or if equipment becomes jammed and requires dislodgement.  Many serious injuries occur when employees attempt to repair/service equipment without removing all energy sources (hint- it’s not enough to simply remove a plug or turn off equipment).  Energy continues to flow within the unit until the energy is completely drained.  All dealerships should have a formal Lock Out/Tag Out Program in place to support the company’s maintenance/repair policies.  Even if your company subcontracts maintenance/repair, a policy must be in place to meet this OSHA standard.

The rest of the top 10 violations are as follows: 

6.  Electrical (Wiring)- 3,584 OSHA violations

7.  Powered Industrial Trucks-  3,432 OSHA violations

8.  Ladders (General- Falls)- 3,244 OSHA violations   

9.  Electrical (General- contact)-  2,863 OSHA violations        

10.Machine Guarding (Contact with Moving Parts)-  2,556 OSHA violations

To protect your business, and the employees who work in your business, take time to review your workplace safety policies.  Be sure you are in compliance with OSHA requirements.  OSHA’s standards are not only established to protect the workers of America, but controlling injuries also helps keep medical costs down and helps you control business expenses for your dealership.  If you have any questions regarding management’s role in OSHA compliance, or if you need assistance in the development of risk management policies, please contact Tonya Hawker at the VADA GSIA office.  www.OSHA.gov is also an excellent resource. 

The VADA GSIA wishes you a safe and happy new year!