The Occupational Safety and Health Administration continually tracks the number and cause of safety standards violations each year. This data provides insight into what issues get the most enforcement attention, perhaps prompting employers to address the issue before getting fined during a remote inspection or facing an injury claim.
The top 10
OSHA advises employers to review their work processes and safety protocols to identify violations and hazards in their workspace. They can then act by addressing the risk, responding to employee reports of unsafe conditions, and providing training.
- Fall protection: This is the 11th year in a row that it is the top violation. There were 5,271 cited violations issued mainly in construction. The leading causes were lack of protection and unprotected edges.
- Respiratory protection: There were 2,521 violations, particularly among auto body refinishing companies, painting companies, wall covering contractors, and masonry contractors. The leading causes of violations were lack of protection, failure to perform fit testing, and lack of medical evaluation.
- Ladders: These drew 2,018 violations, particularly among construction contractors. Violations commonly involved structurally deficient ladders and a lack of compliant side rails extending three feet from the landing surface, using them for purposes other than they were designed.
- Scaffolds: There were 1,943 violations. Construction contractors were the most common violators. The most common violations were improper decking, failure to provide adequate structure support, and lack of guardrails.
- Hazard communication: There were 1,939 citations. There were a noted lack of safety programs with data safety sheets and a lack of training for using and maintaining the sheets.
- Lockout or tagout: This involves safety protocols when working with hazardous energy like electricity, chemical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic or thermal. There were 1,670 citations. Common violations included lack of energy control procedure, lack of training, failure to use lockout or tagout equipment, and failure to evaluate systems. These often occurred at sawmills, plastic manufacturers and machine shops.
- Fall protection training: Different from fall protection, this is the inability of the employee to recall training and failure to retrain. There were 1,660 violations.
- Eye and face protection: Under the category of personal protection and life-saving equipment, there were 1,451 violations. Most violations involved wearing improper eye and face protection when there was a risk of flying objects, molten metal, liquid chemicals, caustic liquids or acids.
- Powered industrial trucks: This involved forklifts and motorized hand trucks. There were 1,404 violations. Warehouses and storage facilities were the most common sites of violations. Violations included unsafe operation, lack of training and evaluation of equipment.
- Machine guarding: This involves physical guards designed to prevent injury when operating machinery. There were 1,105 violations. Most occurred in machine shops.
The injured can get help
Reviewing these common violations can also raise awareness among workers, who can share these concerns with management. Workers can report the employer if they are slow to address safety concerns. Inaction can also lead to worker’s compensation claims and/or personal injury claims. Victims or family members can get more information by speaking with an injury attorney.