As OSHA make clear, the list of the most commonly cited violations changes little from year to year. Novel or not, OSHA’s annual Top 10 violations list is a useful tool that safety professionals can use to identify hazards at their own facilities. The OSHA Top 10 list doesn’t cover every important workplace hazard, but it does provide an overview of the most common and costly violations for American employers.
For the first time, OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard for the construction industry, found at 29 CFR 1926.95, made the top 10 list. The regulations require employers to provide and maintain adequate personal protective equipment for workers. §1926.95 also details when an employer must pay for PPE and when an employee may pay for it him or herself.
10. NEW! Eye and Face Protection—Construction
(29 CFR 1926.95)
The PPE and Lifesaving Equipment Standard replaces Electrical Wiring (29 CFR 1910.305) as #10 on this year’s list. Given the historical data, it seems likely that electrical safety violations just missed the Top 10 this time around.
Total violations cited: 1,536
9. Machine Guarding
OSHA requires employers to identify workplace machinery that can cause injury to an employee. Machine injuries can occur at the point of operation, from rotating and/or moving parts, or from flying chips or sparks.
(29 CFR 1910.212)
While the number of OSHA machine guarding citations went up slightly this year compared to preliminary data from 2017 (from 1,933 in 2017 to 1,972 this year), this OSHA Standard fell one spot to #9 on this year’s list.
Total violations cited: 1,972
Fall protection training requirements for the construction industry rose one spot to #8 on the list after appearing on the Top 10 for the first time last year. Construction industry employers are required to provide training for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards and to verify that the training was complete with a written certification record.
8. Fall Protection—Training Requirements
(29 CFR 1926.503)
The total number of citations for training violations also rose, from 1,523 in 2017 to nearly 2,000 in 2018. Updates to OSHA’s general industry worker fall protection or Walking-Working Surfaces Standard took effect in early 2017, and included new training requirements to guide workers on the nature of fall hazards, procedures to minimize those hazards, and the correct use of fall protection systems.
Training was also required on the use, care, and disposal of personal protective equipment. Employers were required to provide this training before May 17, 2017 (29 CFR 1910.30(a)(1)).
Total violations cited: 1,982
From forklift races and wheelies to doing doughnuts on the production floor, we’ve heard a lot of scary forklift operation stories that certainly violate OSHA safety standards.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks
(29 CFR 1910.178)
That said, failure to properly train, certify, and re-certify forklift drivers was the most common reason employers were cited under OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.178 Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks.
Total violations cited: 2,294
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Humans have been using ladders for millennia, but we still use them improperly sometimes.
(29 CFR 1926.1053)
Common violations of OSHA’s Ladder Safety Standard include broken or improperly maintained ladders, using ladders for purposes other than climbing, and using the top step of the ladder as a step (prohibited by §1926.1053(b)(13)).
Total violations cited: 2,812
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(29 CFR 1910.147)
Lockout/Tagout is crucial in facilities where machine maintenance and servicing occur. The unexpected release of hazardous energy—“Control of Hazardous Energy” is the 29 CFR 1910.147 Standard’s proper title—can result in severe injuries, amputations, crushing, and death.
Failure to train personnel on proper Lockout/Tagout procedures was a frequent violation found by OSHA inspectors in FY 2018.
Total violations cited: 2,944
Using a respirator properly in the workplace takes more than strapping one to your face. Employers must complete medical evaluations to protect the employee, perform fit-testing to ensure respirators function properly, and train employees on proper use and maintenance.
4. Respiratory Protection
(29 CFR 1910.134)
For details on respirator medical evaluations, read Before You Fit Test: Medical Clearance for Respirator Use.
Total violations cited: 3,118
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OSHA lays out specific requirements for scaffolds in the construction industry at 29 CFR 1926.451. The rules include specific weight limitations, construction requirements, and rules for planking and decking scaffold platforms correctly.
3. Scaffolds General Requirements—Construction
(29 CFR 1926.451)
Total violations cited: 3,336
2. Hazard Communication or HazCom
OSHA plans to revise its HazCom Standard again in 2019 to bring it up to date with the latest edition of the Globally Harmonized System for Classifying and Labeling Chemicals (GHS). OSHA updated the HazCom Standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200 to harmonize US rules with the GHS for the first time in 2012.
(29 CFR 1910.1200)
OSHA’s HazCom Standard requires all employers to provide workers with information about hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Chemical hazards—from toxic gases to everyday cleaning products—are communicated using written HazCom programs, hazard labels/warnings, Safety Data Sheets (SDS), and HazCom training.
Total violations cited: 4,552
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Topping the list again this year with more than 7,000 violations cited is OSHA’s Fall Protection Standard for construction. Failure to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and fall arrest systems for workers in high places were common violations of this Standard in 2018.
1. Fall Protection—Construction
(29 CFR 1926.501)
The total number of violations in this category rose by more than 1,000 from last year, according to OSHA’s preliminary data.
Total violations cited: 7,270
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