- OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited violations remain largely unchanged from previous years, indicating a need for continuous improvement in the commitment to safety practices.
- Safety standards related to fall protection, hazard communication, and respiratory protection continue to lead the list.
- Regular training, comprehensive workplace inspections, and diligent compliance to safety standards are crucial to minimizing workplace hazards.
OSHA’s Top Ten Violations: A Recurring Pattern
Every year, OSHA announces its list of the top 10 most frequently cited violations, setting the tone for safety measures and priorities in the subsequent fiscal year. Notably, the fiscal year 2022 (FY22) list, presented at the National Safety Council (NSC) Safety Congress & Expo, shows a recurring pattern. Many of the most frequently cited violations continue to reappear, indicating an urgent need for attention and improvement in these areas.
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1. Fall Protection, General Requirements
Claiming the top spot with 5,260 violations is the standard for fall protection, a category that remains consistently in the lead. The alarming fact is that despite the clear guidelines and requirements, violations in this category are still the most common. The standard entails protection against unprotected edges, holes, leading edges, and other fall risks typically found in the construction industry.
2. Hazard Communication Standard, General Requirements
In second place with 2,424 violations is the Hazard Communication Standard. This standard requires employers to communicate potential hazards to their employees effectively. It highlights the need for proper labeling, use of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and adequate training to ensure employees are aware of potential hazards in their workplaces.
3. Respiratory Protection, General Industry
With 2,185 violations, the third most cited violation relates to respiratory protection. This standard is particularly relevant in today’s pandemic-stricken world. It mandates the use of respirators to protect workers from harmful dust, fog, fumes, gases, and sprays.
4. Ladders, Construction
Fourth on the list, with 2,143 violations, is the safety standard for ladders. This violation mainly affects the construction industry, with issues arising from improper ladder usage or using ladders that are in poor condition.
5. Scaffolding, General Requirements, Construction
Closely following ladders is the standard for scaffolding, with 2,058 violations. The standard highlights the need for secure scaffolding, appropriate weight handling, and the use of guardrails for worker protection.
6. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), General Requirements
Lockout/Tagout violations, with 1,977 occurrences, emphasizes the necessity of procedures that protect workers from hazardous energy when servicing equipment. Inadequate compliance to this standard could lead to severe workplace injuries or even fatalities.
7. Powered Industrial Trucks, General Requirements
Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks accounted for 1,749 violations, emphasizing the need for operator training, equipment inspection, and maintaining safe environments for operating these vehicles.
8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements
The eighth most cited standard in FY22, with 1,556 violations, was fall protection training requirements. Adequate training on fall protection can significantly reduce workplace accidents and fatalities.
9. Eye and Face Protection
Ranked ninth with 1,401 violations, this standard stipulates the need for adequate eye and face protection against potential hazards, including flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, and potentially harmful light radiation.
10. Machinery and Machine Guard, General Requirements
Closing the list at the tenth spot with 1,370 violations, the machinery and machine guarding standard mandates the use of protective measures to safeguard workers from machine-related hazards, such as rotating parts and sparks.
Analyzing the Top Violations: The Road to Compliance
The persistence of these top violations year after year points to the critical need for improvement in these areas. Despite the consistency of these standards, their frequent citation indicates a lack of effective compliance, thereby signaling a gap between safety regulations and their implementation. Let’s delve into some of these violations in more detail to gain a better understanding of how workplaces can promote safety and reduce non-compliance.
Machinery and Machine Guard
Rounding off the top 10 list are machinery and machine guarding violations, which are designed to protect workers from various machine-related hazards. These can range from injuries due to rotating parts to exposure to sparks, necessitating the use of specific types of machine guarding like fixed, interlocked, adjustable, and self-adjusting guards. Yet, there has been an increase in violations under this standard, suggesting a lack of adherence to this fundamental safety requirement.
Eye and Face Protection
The ninth most cited standard was for eye and face protection. OSHA regulations require employers to provide adequate protective gear to employees exposed to potential eye and face hazards, including flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, and injurious light radiation. These could lead to severe eye and face injuries, including blindness. However, the number of violations suggests that there is a considerable room for improvement in ensuring that workers are properly equipped for their tasks.
Fall Protection – Training Requirements
Fall-related accidents are a leading cause of death in the construction industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 645 workers lost their lives after a fall to a lower level. Therefore, it is crucial that workers receive comprehensive training on fall protection to prevent such incidents. Yet, with 1,556 violations issued in FY22 for OSHA’s standard on fall protection training, there’s a clear gap between the standard and its implementation.
Powered Industrial Trucks
The usage of powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts, poses significant safety risks. OSHA requires operators to complete formal training, practical training, and evaluations as outlined in OSHA standard 1910.178. Despite these guidelines, there has been a marked increase in violations under this standard, indicating a need for more rigorous compliance.
Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)
Lockout/tagout violations ranked sixth, emphasizing the importance of controlling hazardous energy when servicing equipment to avoid injuries or fatalities. This standard entails specific procedures to prevent accidental start-up of machinery or equipment during maintenance or servicing, highlighting the need for regular employee training and periodic inspections.
Scaffolding violations ranked fifth, underlining the critical need for safe scaffolding practices. These practices include ensuring the scaffolding can support at least four times the maximum intended load and using guardrails or personal fall arrest systems to enhance worker safety.
Addressing OSHA’s Top Violations
Given the consistency of OSHA’s top 10 violations, it’s clear that businesses need to focus more on these areas to improve workplace safety. Training, equipment inspection, and adherence to safety standards are non-negotiable elements of a secure work environment.
It’s not just about preventing citations, fines, or penalties. Prioritizing workplace safety is fundamentally about protecting employees and promoting a culture of safety. When workers feel safe, they are more productive, engaged, and loyal, leading to better business outcomes. Hence, investing in workplace safety is indeed an investment in a company’s most valuable asset: its people.