This is a discussion about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) annual Top 10 List of most frequently cited safety and health violations and its perceived value by fellow American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) peers.
Every fall the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) releases a list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year (FY). It is compiled from more than 30,000 workplace inspections by Federal OSHA. The list rarely changes from year to year. In fact, the top three cited standards in fiscal year 2016 (October 1, 2015–September 30, 2016) have been the exact same top three since 2012, and in slightly different orders these three have topped the list for more than 10 years running.
However, the total number of inspections, the total number of violations cited and the penalty amounts for those violations do change from year to year. These changes provide some insights on how aggressively OSHA is citing their standards and what is their enforcement emphasis "top of mind".
OSHA publishes the Top 10 List to help employers improve the safety and health of their workers by reviewing their own operations for similar issues and taking steps to find and fix these hazards. In an October 2016 blog post, OSHA wrote: "If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline." (Galassi, Thomas, "Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety, U.S. Department of Labor Blog, https://blog.dol.gov/2016/10/18/top-10-oshacitations-of-2016-a-starting-point-for-workplace-safety/).
Even though the list is similar from year to year, there are things that change, such as the total number of inspections, the total number of violations cited, and the penalty amounts for those violations. These changes provide some insights on how aggressively OSHA is citing its standards and what its enforcement emphasis is. But what broader insights does the survey offer? Do safety professionals really use it? And are there ways that it could be improved? A recent survey sponsored by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) asked these and other questions?