Safety Inspectors Share The Most Maddening Violations They've Seen In The Workplace

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Here is what we know for sure... NO PLACE IS SAFE! Literally nowhere! And some of the reasons are blatant human error, laziness and stupidity. One must ask... how difficult is it to keep your business running up to snuff to keep your employees and clients alive? Apparently it's extremely difficult. Just as the people who's job it is to keep work areas safe and functioning. The things they see on the regular make you almot want to order in and never leave home.

Redditor Shvok reached out to safety workers to expose some secrets by asking... Safety/OSHA inspectors of Reddit, what is the most maddening/dumbest violation you've seen in a work place? When in public... pay attention! Nobody else is...


I used to work as a safety consultant for an insurance broker. One of our insureds had an employee who was tasked to apply a "Do not enter, compactor starts automatically" sign on a cardboard box compactor. The idiot set the can of spray adhesive on the lip of the compactor, knocked it in, and then jumped in the compactor to get it. Of course it started automatically because it's a machine that can't tell idiot from box. He's lucky some else was walking by and saved his life.


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I was on the Workplace Health and Safety committee. The committee head at the time decided to change a lightbulb. Do you think that she used a step ladder on the sloped surface? Nope, office chair with wheels and nobody to hold it still. So many stupid decisions in that last sentence. Of course she fell, broke her arm, and received work place compensation.

The kicker? The light bulb wasn't blown, she was just using the wrong light switch.


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I used to be the OSHA rep for a previous workplace that was a store with a Tim Hortons kiosk attached.

I witnessed an employee take two 5 gallon buckets of corrosive liquid (don't remember what, but distinctly remember the symbol on the buckets) and try to dump them down the sink we used to wash dishes for the food, with the dishes still in there.

When I caught her, and pulled the buckets to the Delivery Bay Area for removal the next day, she took them that night shift and then tried to dump them down the toilet.

We were on a military base. All she had to do was pick up the phone, dial 0, and ask someone to come pick up the buckets. Apparently that was too hard.


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Worked in a hospital lab and higher ranked coworker asked me to take inventory of things from our liquid nitrogen storage tank (-200C mind you). I asked her for the proper mitts to handle our stuff and she told me to just use our usual latex gloves.

My company rents the lab space of the hospital so I'm assuming she doesn't know where it is and doesn't care to ask

I proceed to ask the hospital lab staff for proper mitts which I was given.

After I took inventory, coworker decided she wanted to do a verification inventory check and had the audacity to ask me for the proper mitts.


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Port state Inspector. For me and most of my colleagues its things relating to fire safety, particularly fire doors. The amount of time I've found auto closing doors tied, wedged, weighted or just fixed in the open position is maddening. Fire is the worst thing that can happen on a ship, and these doors have to be able to be closed at any time but people are too lazy to open a god damn door so they tie them open, and then guess what, time and time again there is a fire and when we do the investigation (assuming there is anything left to investigate) we find a fire door fixed open that's allowed to fire to spread. People in my industry literally die every year because some AB or assistant engineer to too lazy to open a door.


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Worked in a warehouse that repaired tools and equipment for erecting wind turbines. There was one beloved program manager that always met schedules early and under budget. All the execs loved him. But his equipment came back basically disassembled and reassembled with all the safety checks removed so they'd work faster. The way they rigged up the electrical equipment was downright scary. He'd hire unqualified lifting equipment inspectors for his worksite instead of relying on the corporate guys who took their time and kept documentation on everything. Stuff like that. Cutting corners whenever he could.

But he got everything done on time so he was a golden goose. Every time I hear of an accident at a wind farm I wonder if it's related to that guy.


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Wasn't our plant but another plant for our company. We have these huge steel drums that we fill with 100s of pounds of ingredients that go onto an hydraulic lift that lifts and tilts the drum and pours the contents into a kettle.

The drum shifts forward a little bit on the lift while all the way up and falls back into place on its way down. The operator was resting his hand on the bottom of the lift while lowering it back down and the drum fell back down on his finger and pretty much turned it into mush.

That's not the worst part. Afterwards the safety lead was doing a review of the incident and another operator showed the safety lead EXACTLY what happened and smashed his finger in the same manner.


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I taught skydivers to be tandem instructors. One drop zone bought a new type of tandem rig and faked their training... management had them lie about it to me and another examiner. Chief instructor's excuse: "They're all the same anyway." He had a malfunction caused by his not knowing how the rig worked, and his poor paying first-time passenger had no idea the danger this arrogant prick put him through. The worst thing was the training was free!


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We received a complaint about workers using liquid nitrogen inside of a confined space. I went out to this sand and gravel company and saw this 30' long above-ground storage tank. There was a liquid nitrogen tank outside the opening and two workers outside. I showed my ID and discovered one of the workers outside was the foreman and the other was monitoring the air quality for the workers. All good, right? Nope.

The entrance was a small square opening at the end. There were about 4 workers inside the tank using liquid nitrogen to cool the tar in the tank so it could be chipped out. So, they were introducing a gas which could displace oxygen. The person doing air monitoring had a probe only a couple feet long, so it was only really checking the air quality of the fresh air mixed with tank air, NOT the air in the worker's breathing zone. The workers were about 15' into the tank.

They had no confined space training, no confined space permit, no rescue plan. The foreman then copped an attitude and told me I was wasting their time. I red-tagged the operation (normally reserved for only when voluntary immediate compliance seems unlikely) and told them it was illegal for them to continue work or re-enter the tank until they met the confined space rules. It was a pretty hefty fine - the company didn't appeal. I think the foreman got fired as management seemed unaware that the activity was taking place and was further upset at the foreman's reaction. Normally, sand and gravel companies in my area do a good job with health and safety - it was a rare miss for them.


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I worked in a lab doing cytomegalovirus research. One day we had workers in replacing the lights and one said 'wow- I always thought those shower things were real!' Pointing at one of the emergency showers in the lab. These are for heavy duty chemical spills where you run under the shower and pull a handle to decontaminate. Turns out ours were just the shower heads in the ceiling not connected to any water. We used extremely dangerous chemicals every day. We got the showers hooked up pretty quickly after that.