OSHA Enforcement Update

OSHA Enforcement Update

One of Southwire’s emphasis in product development centers on SIMpull Solutions® Products and Services. In 2009, Southwire created the SIMpull Solutions product line in order to increase workplace safety during wire and cable installations.  As Southwire continues to develop and add innovative products to the SIMpull Solutions product line, we are constantly looking for input from industry professionals. Although no one can completely eliminate the risk of workplace injury, Southwire is striving to develop more innovative products that will decrease the occupational risks associated with the electrical industry.

This past March, Richard Fairfax, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of OSHA, presented an enforcement update at the American Bar Association’s Occupational Safety and Health Committee Mid-Winter Meeting.  Fairfax’s presentation provided an overview of OSHA enforcement trends and contains some interesting information specifically relevant to contractors.

Interesting to note was that during the past five years, the number of inspections has largely stayed flat.  Similarly, the total number of violations has also stayed relatively flat and year over year actually decreased from 2010-2011.  The number of violations that were “Serious” or “Serious, Willful and Repeat” also fell four and five percent respectively.

An area that did see a big change was the average penalty per “Serious Violation,” which jumped by 100 percent from $1,053 in FY10 to $2,133 in FY11.  The total number of significant cases also jumped in 2011, up by more than 50 cases over the previous year.  So trend seems clear, steeper penalties and a related, stronger emphasis on significant cases, where the proposed penalties total more than $100,000.

This is specifically relevant to electrical contractors because in 2011, “Electrical, Wiring Methods” were the third most cited “general industry” standard and “Electrical, General Requirements” were the sixth most cited.  In “construction,” fall protection was clearly a continued point of emphasis in cited standards with: “Scaffolding,” “Fall Protection,” “Ladders Fall Protection, Training Requirements” taking the top four slots.  In Serious Violations, “Scaffolding” and “Fall Protection” were in the top two spots and “Electrical, Wiring Methods” was fifth and “Electrical, General Requirements” was tenth.

The full presentation from the conference is available here.

What accidents are you seeing when installing or working with wire and cable?  Let us know so that we can incorporate ways to reduce or eliminate accidents on the jobsite.

– Dave Mercier

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