OSHA’s 2016 Top Ten Most Frequently Cited Violations
1. 1926.501 – Fall Protection (C)
2. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
3. 1926.451 – Scaffolding (C)
4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
5. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
6. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
7. 1926.1053 – Ladders (C)
8. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
9. 1910.212 – Machine Guarding
10. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements
(C) = Construction standard
Frequent Compliance Issues
Common Compliance Issues with Respirator Protection OSHA’s respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, was the fourth most frequently violated agency standard in fiscal year 2015 and 2016. OSHA penalized industries $2.2 million for 3,682 violation citations.
The most frequently cited industries for violations of the respiratory protection (RP) standard were healthcare, automotive repair and maintenance; building finishing contractors; architectural and structural metals manufacturing; foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors; and coating, engraving, heat treating, and allied activities. It’s not surprising that the respiratory protection standard is one of OSHA’s most challenging rules for industry because the standard, issued on January 8, 1998, contains more than 150 separate provisions with 13 major sections.
What are the specific compliance problems industry has with OSHA’s respiratory standard? Two-thirds (66 percent) of agency inspections resulting in respiratory protection violations, cited companies for inadequate or nonexistent written programs. When respirators are required, employers must establish a written respiratory protection program that assures that medical evaluation; fit testing; proper usage, cleaning, and maintenance; training; and recordkeeping are conducted; and that the appropriate type of respirator is provided. A partial respiratory protection program is required if employees wear respirators when it is not a company requirement.
A number of companies are unaware of the regulation for voluntary respirator usage, and more than 2,000 citations were issued for not providing information to voluntary users, according to the BLS study, which analyzed more than 30,000 violations of OSHA’s respiratory protection standard between 1999 and 2006.
Failure to provide a medical evaluation to determine an employee’s fitness for respirator use was the second most frequently cited respiratory protection violation, with 4,300 citations, according to the study. OSHA views this failure as a significant noncompliance issue, with more than half of these citations (56 percent) categorized as “serious” rather than “other than serious.” Employers must provide a medical evaluation to determine employees’ ability to use a respirator before fit testing and use. The employer must use a physician or other licensed health care professional (LHCP) to perform medical evaluations using a medical questionnaire or by conducting a medical examination. (The required medical information that must be obtained is listed in the mandatory Appendix C of the respiratory protection standard.) Dr. Casey Terribilini, President for Fast Response On-Site Testing, indicates that “employees who are smokers, or who have chronic medical problems such as asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, may require annual exams prior to being medically cleared to proceed with fit-testing and respirator use”. Employers must also obtain a written recommendation regarding an employee’s ability to use a respirator from the physician or other LHCP.
Failure to conduct fit testing prior to respirator use, and at least annually, was the fourth most-cited respiratory protection violation (failing to provide information to voluntary users was number three), according to the BLS study. All employees using a negative or positive-pressure tight-fitting facepiece respirator must pass an appropriate qualitative fit test or quantitative fit test. Fit testing is required prior to initial use, whenever a different respirator facepiece is used, and at least annually thereafter.