The Electrical Big Ten

Many statistics are recorded and collected in the construction field— injury, illness, fatality and most frequently cited violations, to name a few. One reason the construction industry in general, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in particular, find these statistics so important is they help indicate trends in the industry. Injury, illness and fatality statistics point out where problems have occurred and suggest where more training and prevention may be needed. The most frequently cited violations help reveal where closer attention is needed to clean up the common unsafe practices in the industry.

By looking at the 10 most frequently cited violations for a specific aspect of construction, a better fit between training, prevention and the industry can occur. It helps decrease the violations handed out, as well as the number of injuries and illnesses at a job site. The top 10 most frequently cited violations by electrical contractors lists the standards that were in violation during the period of a year, as cited by OSHA:

1 1926.405—Wiring Methods, Components and Equipment for General Use

2 1926.403—General Requirements

3 1926.453—Aerial Lifts

4 1926.404—Wiring Designs and Protection

5 1926.501—Duty to Have Fall Protection

6 1926.20—General Safety and Health Provisions

7 1926.1053—Ladders

8 1926.1052—Stairways

9 1926.21—Safety Training and Education

10 1926.416—General Requirements for Safety-Related Work Practices

Electrical Violations (Subpart K)

In this year’s statistics, electrical violations show up three times in the top four cited violations. The No. 1 violation mainly dealt with equipment used in wiring (cabinets and boxes), temporary wiring and flexible cables and cords. To avoid these common citations, remember that conductors that enter cabinets and boxes must be protected from scratches and scrapes. Any unused openings must be closed and junction boxes covered, and if metal covers are used, those must be grounded. Temporary wiring must be protected from potential damage from sharp edges, corners, nails and screws. Any flexible cords in use must be protected with strain relief.

General requirement citations arose from unapproved equipment being used on the job site, meaning the equipment wasn’t listed, labeled or certified. Also cited was maintaining the proper clearance distances. The standard determines required clearance distance depending on the voltage. Remember that clearances are to be maintained. This applies to distances to be maintained by employees performing work on conductors and circuit parts and to the storage of materials. Citations from wiring design and protection mainly dealt with ground-fault protection and how this was accomplished. Another common area of citation was for something as simple as grounds being present on the attachment plugs of equipment.

Aerial Lifts (Subpart L)

Citations mainly dealt with workers being properly trained on this type of equipment. Many of the other violations also came about due to improper or insufficient training. There were many incidents in which workers overrode safety devices on the lift, moved the equipment with co-workers in an elevated platform, or did not set the brakes or use wheel chokes when the lift was on an incline.

Duty to Have Fall Protection (Subpart M)

The citations in this area indicate that either fall protection is not being used, or it is being used incorrectly. Either situation puts your employees at risk.

Stairways and Ladders (Subpart X)

Citations for these standards were caused by employees not using ladders and stairways correctly. Common sense safety practices were not used: ladders weren’t secured, defective ladders were used, ladders were placed in doorways, stairs were not fitted with guardrail systems, or guardrails didn’t meet the standard.

Safety Program (Subpart C)

These violations involve a lack of accident prevention inspections and programs. It is the responsibility of the employer to set up, implement and maintain these programs; many electrical contractors are not. Other safety program violations dealt with safety training and education, which also is the responsibility of the employer. These programs are put in place to train employees to identify unsafe conditions and how to deal with these conditions safely.

General Requirements—Safety-Related Work Practices (Subpart K)

It is the employer’s responsibility to keep employees safe from contact with electrical current, including open spaces, work spaces, through excavation and worn cords and cables.

By looking closely at these most commonly cited violations, electrical contractors can tailor their training and prevention programs to those areas that will do the most good. The target of these programs should be to keep the employees safe, but these programs also can reduce the number and cost of citations received by electrical contractors.

KELLY is a safety and health specialist with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. She can be reached at 800.745.4818 or Joe O’Connor edited this article.

About the Author

Diane Kelly

Safety Columnist

Diane Kelly is a safety and health specialist with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. She can be reached at 800.745.4818 or dkell...

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