Do you know the top 10 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citations in the building materials industry? Two recent webinars from the National Lumber and Building MaterialVinylmaxsafetyinsidestory Dealers Association (NLBMDA) highlighted the most common violations and ways to avoid them.

Regina McMichael of The Learning Factory hosted the online courses, which are based on OSHA statistics from January 2011 to March 2014.

Forklifts accounted for the most citations – 71. Failures of hazard communications, which refers to informing workers of workplace dangers, came in second with 38 citations. The rest of the top ten were respirators (29), wiring (28), guardrails/holes (22), electrical (20), fire extinguishers (18), woodworking (18), exits (18) and machinery (15).

According to McMichael, by far the best strategy to avoid an OSHA citation is to simply get rid of the problem — isolate it via mechanical means or remove it from the workplace.

“Engineer it out or eliminate it completely,” she said. “Getting rid of a hazard is always the easiest choice.”

Another effective method is to replace the process or substance with a much less hazardous one.

McMichael says those steps are far better than administrative ones, which require procedures and training. Those cost time and money – and they’re always subject to human error.

“It’s much better to get rid of a problem than write a policy about it,” she said.

The least effective line of defense for a business is personal protection equipment, such as gloves and goggles. It’s far too easy for workers to forget to use the equipment or to use it improperly, McMichael said, and their presence is no shield against an OSHA citation.

She urged business owners to frequently inspect their facilities for problems.

“Walk your site,” she said. “Look and fix as you go.”

To train new workers in safety procedures, McMichael suggested a scavenger hunt to find emergency exits and fire extinguishers. She said the latter is an issue of special concern to lumberyards, for obvious reasons.

In the end, McMichael said a safe workplace is good for the bottom line.

“All of the chances for citations are truly under your control if you go out there and take a look with the mind-set that keeping everyone safe and working is the best way to run a business,” she said.

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