OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations

July 28, 2023 · 6 minute read · Commercial Lines

Blog OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations

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Fiscal Year 2022 (October 1, 2021, through September 30, 2022)

In 2021, 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred in the private sector. In the same year, 5,190 total fatal injuries were reported in all sectors. Many of these injuries, illnesses, and fatalities are preventable when the right steps are taken to identify and correct hazards in the workplace.

While workplace hazards vary from one business to another, here are the top ten most frequently cited OSHA violations for fiscal year 2022. Do you have safety measures in place to address these hazards?

  1. Fall protection — 5,260 violations
  2. Hazard communication — 2,424 violations
  3. Respiratory protection — 2,185 violations
  4. Ladders – 2,143 violations
  5. Scaffolding — 2,058 violations
  6. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) — 1,977 violations
  7. Powered industrial trucks — 1,749 violations
  8. Fall protection (training requirements) – 1,556 violations
  9. Personal protective and lifesaving equipment (eye and face protection) – 1,401 violations
  10. Machine guarding – 1,370 violations

Keeping Employees Safe and Avoiding Costly OSHA Citations

While an OSHA citation can be costly, the health and safety of employees is on the line when safety standards are not enforced in the workforce. Employers can ensure a safe work environment for their employees, eliminate devastating injuries, and avoid costly OSHA citations by implementing and enforcing a safety program. Here are a few safety tips to help you avoid the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations of 2022.

For a more thorough review of the specific requirements applicable to your workplace, visit https://www.osha.gov/Top_Ten_Standards.html

Fall Protection (1926.501 – Construction Standard)

  • Perform a hazard review of all work locations to identify fall hazards.
  • Train employees in recognition of all hazards and control methods.
  • Walking and working surfaces must have the strength and structural integrity to safely support weight of employees, tools, supplies, etc.
  • Floor holes that are over two inches in diameter must be covered.
  • Safety systems, such as guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest equipment, must be in place for working surfaces that are six feet or more above the lower level. This applies to walking/working surfaces, areas around holes, ramps, runways, hoist areas, excavation areas, wells, shafts, and more.
  • Employees who use personal fall arrest equipment must be trained in the appropriate use of this safety system.
  • Employees must wear a hard hat when exposed to danger of objects falling from above.
  • Install toeboards, screens, or guardrail systems to help prevent objects from falling to lower levels. If needed, barricade the area where objects could fall to keep people out of the danger zone.

Hazard Communication (1910.1200)

  • Establish a written hazard communication program.
  • Create a good chemical inventory list for comparison to SDS compliance.
  • Ensure labels on original containers of hazardous chemicals are not removed or damaged.
  • Label any secondary containers in which hazardous chemicals are placed. Labels need to meet the requirements of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).
  • Maintain copies of safety data sheets for all hazardous chemicals on the premises.
  • Keep safety data sheets readily available for all employees.
  • Train employees on SDS use and location.
  • Ensure proper personal protective equipment is selected and available for all chemicals on the premises.
  • Train employees on how to protect themselves in the event of a spill or leak.

Ladders (1926.1053 – Construction Standard)

  • Use ladders that are the right height for the project.
  • Ensure there are handholds at the top of the ladder.
  • The top or top step of a stepladder must not be used as a step.
  • When progressing up or down the ladder, the user must face the ladder and use at least one hand to grasp the ladder, otherwise known as the “Three Points of Contact” rule.
  • Do not tie or fasten ladders together to create longer sections unless the ladders are specifically designed to do so.
  • The rungs and steps of fixed metal ladders must be corrugated, knurled, dimpled, coated with skid-resistant material, or otherwise treated to minimize slipping.
  • Stepladders must have a metal spreader or locking device to keep the ladder in open position when in use.
  • Ladder components must be surfaced to prevent injury to employees and to avoid snagging clothing.
  • Ladders must be inspected on a regular basis and after any occurrence that could affect their safe use. If the ladder has any structural defects, it must be withdrawn from service until repaired. Ladder repairs must restore the ladder to a condition meeting its original design criteria before the ladder is returned to use.

Respiratory Protection (1910.134)

  • Reduce contaminants in the air with proper ventilation and by using less toxic materials when possible.
  • If contaminants cannot be removed, then the use of respirators and breathing apparatuses in those work areas is required. Industrial hygiene testing is needed to determine when a respirator is required and what type of respirator to use. This ensures the respirator is preventing the employee from being exposed to contaminants.
  • Provide employees with respirators that are appropriate for the hazards in the workplace. Procedures must be in place to ensure the equipment fits each employee as intended.
  • Inspect respiratory protection equipment on a regular basis and repair or replace as needed.
  • Train employees on the proper use of respirators, including how to put on and remove the equipment. Training should also include how to inspect the respirator to ensure it is serviceable, how to thoroughly clean the respirator, and when and how to replace filters.
  • Develop and implement a written respiratory protection program that includes worksite-specific procedures and elements for required respirator use. Update the program as needed to reflect changes in the workplace that affect respiratory use.

Scaffolding (1926.451 – Construction Standard)

  • A qualified individual must design scaffolds. The scaffolds must be constructed and loaded according to that design.
  • All scaffolds and scaffold components must be able to support their own weight and at least four times the weight of their maximum intended load.
  • Unstable objects must not be used to support scaffolds or platform units.
  • Employees must use fall protection on scaffolds if the fall distance exceeds 10 feet when proper guard railing or other fall prevention is not possible.
  • A suitable means of access must be provided for scaffold platforms that are more than two feet above or below a point of access.
  • Wood platforms must not have an opaque finish. Wood preservatives, fire-retardant finishes, and slip-resistant finishes are okay to use.
  • All platform and planking material must be scaffold rated.
  • A qualified, competent individual must perform daily inspections of scaffolding to ensure equipment is set up correctly and in good working order.

Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (1910.147)

  • Develop and implement written energy control procedures for all equipment where servicing and maintenance occur. Procedures must include a work protocol specific to the equipment.
  • Train all authorized employees on energy control procedures (authorized employees are those who will perform the procedure). All other employees who work in the area need to be trained to never remove a lock or use a machine that is tagged/locked.
  • Conduct periodic inspections (at least once per year) to ensure procedures are being followed correctly and consistently.
  • The devices used for controlling energy must not be used for other purposes and must be durable.
  • Lockout and tagout devices must include the identity of the employee applying the device.
  • If your business operates from multiple locations, make sure all worksites are properly implementing energy control procedures.

Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)

  • Employers shall ensure each operator is competent to operate the truck safely as demonstrated by completion of training and evaluation. Refresher training for operators is required when an operator is involved in an accident or near miss, observed to operate in an unsafe manner, or at least once every three years.
  • Always operate powered industrial trucks from the operator’s seat and always wear the seat belt when operating.
  • A powered industrial truck must only be used in atmospheres, working conditions, and environments in which the truck is designated and approved.
  • Smoking must be prohibited while operating or near powered industrial trucks as well as near propane storage areas, refueling stations, and battery charging areas.
  • All nameplates and markings must be in place and legible.
  • Industrial trucks must be inspected before being placed into service.
  • Perform daily equipment inspections as required by the standard.
  • Properly position the truck and apply the brake before changing or charging batteries.
  • Appropriate facilities must be provided for flushing and neutralizing spilled electrolytes.
  • Precautions must be taken to prevent open flames, sparks, or electric arcs in battery charging areas.

Fall Protection Training (Construction) (1926.503)

Provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards. The program should teach each employee to recognize the hazards of falling and train each employee in the procedures to follow to minimize these hazards. Each employee should be trained in the following areas:

  • The nature of fall hazards in the work area.
  • The correct procedures for erecting, maintaining, disassembling, and inspecting the fall protection systems to be used.
  • The use and operation of guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, safety net systems, warning line systems, safety monitoring systems, controlled access zones, and other protection to be used.
  • The role of each employee in the safety monitoring system when this system is used.
  • The limitations on the use of mechanical equipment during the performance of roofing work on low-sloped roofs.
  • The correct procedures for the handling and storage of equipment and materials and the erection of overhead protection.
  • The role of employees in fall protection plans.

Eye and Face Protection (Construction) (1926.102)

  • Ensure employees use appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.
  • Employees should use eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects.
  • Employees who wear prescription lenses while engaged in operations that involve eye hazards should wear eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wear eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.
  • Eye and face PPE should be distinctly marked to facilitate identification of the manufacturer.

Protectors should meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Provide adequate protection against the hazards for which they are designed.
  • Be reasonably comfortable when worn under the designated conditions.
  • Fit snugly and not interfere with the movements of the wearer.
  • Be durable.
  • Be capable of being disinfected.
  • Be easily cleanable.

Machine Guarding (1910.212)

  • Perform a machine guarding inspection of all facilities. Ensure compliance with manufacturer requirements and OSHA standards.
  • One or more methods of machine guarding must be in place to protect both the operator and other employees in the machine area.
  • When possible, guards must be affixed to the machine.
  • Guards must be designed in such a way that they do not offer an accident hazard on their own.
  • Guards must prevent the operator from having any part of his/her body in the danger zone during the operating cycle.
  • Moving equipment guards must not be bypassed at any time.
  • When possible, special hand tools must be available for placing and removing material so the operator does not have to place his/her hand in the danger zone.
  • If equipment guards are missing or damaged, suspend the use of the machine until the guard is repaired or replaced.
  • Equipment that is designed for a fixed location must be securely anchored to prevent walking or moving during operation.

While it can be difficult to keep up with all the standards that apply specifically to your business, establishing a safety program can help ensure you are keeping your employees safe and staying OSHA compliant. Contact your Nasburg Huggins insurance advisor to learn more about loss control and safety programs available.