Employers in Oregon are struggling to comply with state requirements for safety committees and safety meetings, according to new data from Oregon OSHA.

In the agency’s ranking of its most cited standards of 2013, safety committees and safety meetings are No. 1.

“There are aspects of the list that are disappointing,” Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood said in the agency’s February-March 2014 Health and Safety Resource newsletter. “We’ve had a safety committee rule for more than two decades. We provide resources and training and yet it’s still the No. 1 issue we cite.”

Hazard communication ranks No. 2, while fall protection (a construction standard) ranks No. 3. Fall protection also tops federal OSHA’s list for 2013.

Oregon OSHA cited construction employers for 431 fall protection violations in 2013. Violations ranged from use of ladders to failure to protect against injury near holes, wall openings and rooftops. The first-time penalty for a fall violation averaged more than $1,000, because of the potential for serious injury or death, the agency noted.  

Fall violations also account for the most frequent source of repeat violations on the list, according to Oregon OSHA.

“There has been some real success when it comes to fall protection, but there hasn’t been enough,” said Wood. “We need to change the culture that accepts rule violations and occasional penalties. Unfortunately, that culture still exists on some job sites.”

Oregon OSHA’s top 10 violations of 2013 were:

  1. Safety committees and safety meetings.
  2. Hazard communication.
  3. Fall protection (including ladder violations).
  4. Electrical: wiring.
  5. Fire extinguishers.
  6. Machine guarding.
  7. Powered industrial trucks.
  8. Lockout/tagout.
  9. Eyewash station.
  10. Respiratory protection.

Wood said the list highlights the need for a multi-faceted approach to safety and health in the workplace, adding that Oregon OSHA will continue to cite violations that put workers at the most risk.

“These aren’t paperwork violations or trivial,” Wood said. “They are protective measures that keep people from dying on the job.”