OSHA Standards and Statistics

This year marks the 40th anniversary ofthe establishment of the Occupational Heathand Safety Administration (OHSA). Dr. DavidMichaels, Assistant Secr


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Contributed by Fastenal, CU Quarterly, June 2012

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Occupational Heath and Safety Administration (OHSA). Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor OHSA, has noted that since 1970 workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent. Also reported occupational injury and illness rates have decreased by over 67 percent since 1973.

Despite those significant reductions:

  • Every day, more than 12 workers die on the job – over 4,500 a year.
  • Every year, more than 4.1 million workers suffer a serious job-related injury or illness.
  • National Academy of Social Insurance reports the total costs paid by employers for workers’ compensation reached $74 billion in 2009.

Most Frequently CitedStandards
The following were the top 10 most frequently cited standards in fiscal year 2011 (in order):

  1. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  2. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  3. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/ tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  6. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305)
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  8. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)
  9. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)
  10. Machines, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212)

Penalties andViolations
These are the types of violations that may be cited and the penalties that may be proposed:

Other Than Serious Violation: A proposed penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation is discretionary.

Serious Violation: A violation where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A mandatory penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation is proposed.

Willful Violation: A violation that the employer knowingly commits or commits with plain indifference to the law. Penalties of up to $70,000 may be proposed for each willful violation, with a minimum penalty of $5,000 for each violation. If an employer is convicted of a willful violation of a standard that has resulted in the death of an employee, the offense is punishable by a court-imposed fine or by imprisonment for up to six months, or both. A fine of up to $250,000 for an individual, or $500,000 for a corporation, may be imposed for a criminal conviction.

Repeated Violation: A violation of any standard, regulation, rule, or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation can bring a fine of up to $70,000 for each such violation.

Additional violations for which citations and proposed penalties may be issued upon conviction:

  • Falsifying records can bring a fine of $10,000 or up to six months in jail, or both.
  • Violations of posting requirements can bring a civil penalty of up to $7,000.

Industries Most Likely to Have Accidents
Nearly 3.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported among private industry employers in 2010, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.5 cases per 100 equivalent fulltime workers. Here is a breakdown of the 2010 incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry.

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Median Days Away from Work
Using the National Safety council averages for 1998 direct and indirect cost excluding property damage OSHA calculates the cost of a lost workday case to be $28,000. Here is a listing of the median days away from work cases by industry. The rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work to recuperate was 118 cases per 10,000 fulltime workers (unchanged from the previous year).

The OSHA website has a cost calculation worksheet to help companies determine their estimated annual accident costs, the impact of accidents on profits and sales and the incidence rate of injury and/or illness: www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/safetyhealth/mod1_estimating_costs.html.

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