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How to Prevent the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Violations

Most Frequently Cited OSHA Violations
  • Each year OSHA releases a list of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations. At Safety International, it’s our job to help employers prevent these common incidents and injuries from happening in the workplace.  With the right guidance and safety training, these injuries can almost always be avoided.  Follow these tips to prevent these top 10 OSHA citations from happening to you and your workers.

    The Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Violations:

    1. Fall Protection

    Of all workplace incidents, falls are the number one most cited OSHA violation.  In our guide to preventing construction falls, we recommend beginning with a safety audit of your workplace by reviewing past results and comparing to current industry best practices.  You’ll then want to create a detailed safety plan to prepare for any potential dangers for that specific project.

    You’ll also want to make sure your workers are equipped with the proper safety equipment including guardrails, netting, personal protective equipment, fall arrest systems, proper ladders, tool carriers, lifts, and other gear that minimizes reaching.  But even if your team has all the proper equipment, the most important thing is to make sure they are properly trained on how and when to use the equipment.

    2. Hazard Communication Standard

    The second most cited OSHA violation is hazard communication standard, which revolves around hazardous chemicals.  OSHA requires that all hazardous chemicals in the workplace must be clearly labeled at all times.

    Employers should also have safety data sheets readily available for exposed workers.  Most importantly, employers should train workers to handle the chemicals appropriately.

    3. Respiratory Protection

    Respiratory protection is the third most cited OSHA violation, and perhaps one of the most volatile as these hazards can have long term health effects on exposed workers.  To avoid this citation, make sure to provide workers with respirators to protect them against harmful pollutants like smoke, dust, fog, mist, gas, vapor, and spray.

    Exposure to these contaminants has the potential to cause cancer, lung damage, disease, or even death. Always comply with the OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, which could prevent hundreds of deaths and illnesses each year.

    4. Scaffolding

    Scaffolding violations are another one of the most common OSHA citations. If required on a job site, safe scaffolding should always begin with proper assembly. It’s important to minimize disruption and reduce the risk of injury to passer-bys.  The structure of the scaffold must be secured against accidental bumps and jostling, and provisions made for fall protection.

    Another important and often-overlooked step is to minimize the number of items stored on the scaffold. Only those tools and materials that are needed at any given time should be present, with others delivered to workers on an as-needed basis.

    Before and during use, it’s an OSHA requirement that a competent person — someone capable of identifying and addressing hazardous conditions — inspect the scaffolding daily. Those inspections must be documented, as must any defects found and the steps taken to correct them.

    Proper personal protective equipment should also be used during scaffolding and will vary depending on the nature of the job. This could include fall protection, filtration masks, respirators, steel-toed boots, or other forms of PPE. Part of the safety inspection should also include a realistic assessment of work hazards so you can ensure your workers are fully protected.

    5. Ladders

    The fifth most common OSHA violation is ladder citations, which is related to fall protection. All ladders on the job site should be capable of supporting the loads without failure, and must comply with specific OSHA regulations depending on the size of the load, type of ladder, and length of the climb.  We recommend downloading the NIOSH Ladder Safety app, which provides interactive tools for angle measuring, selection, inspection, proper use and accessories.

    6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout)

    Hazardous Energy violations are sixth on the list of top OSHA violations, which revolve around the control of dangerous energy sources. Injuries from hazardous energy can be fatal to workers and may include electrocution, burns, crushing, or fracturing body parts.

    Proper lockout/tagout (LOTO) practices and procedures are required to protect workers from hazardous energy releases. OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout Fact Sheet is a helpful resource to learn about the procedures necessary to disable equipment to prevent hazardous energy release.  It is also a requirement for employers to provide training to ensure that each worker knows, understands, and is able to follow the hazardous energy control procedures.

    7. Powered Industrial Trucks

    Powered industrial truck violations are another frequently cited OSHA standard related to general industry.  These violations involve the use of fork lifts and lift trucks, which are used to move materials or raise and lower large objects.

    Many hazards can occur from operating these types of vehicles, which is why it is against the law for anyone to operate a fork lift that is not trained and certified to do so. Employers must ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate it safely by successfully completing the required training and evaluation.

    8. Fall Protection–Training Requirements

    The training requirement related to fall protection is another one of the recent OSHA violations.  As mentioned above, one of the most important aspects of fall protection is the training requirement.  Proper safety training should be a continuous process which includes practicing, reviewing, and refining safety procedures as industry standards and regulations are constantly changing. You’ll also want to make sure you are up to date on OSHA fall protocols so you know what to do if an incident does occur.

    9. Eye and Face Protection

    Eye and face protection is another common violation related to personal protective equipment that unfortunately causes blindness and eye related injuries to thousands of workers each year.  To prevent these injuries, employers should provide proper eye and face protection whenever necessary to protect against chemical and environmental hazards.  Eye and face protection must meet the following minimum requirements:

    • Must provide adequate protection against potential hazards
    • Must fit comfortably and snugly
    • Must be durable
    • Must be capable of being cleaned and disinfected

    10. Machinery and Machine Guarding

    Last on the list of the OSHA top ten citations is machinery and machine guarding, which relates to putting protections in place around moving machine parts.  Machinery has the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands, or even amputations.

    Employers should put safeguards in place for any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury to the operator or anyone that comes into accidental contact with the machine.

    I hope this guide on preventing the OSHA top 10 violations was helpful and informative.  At Safety International, we’re all too familiar with many of these hazards and have helped many clients to develop comprehensive safety plans to prevent these types of incidents.  Feel free to contact us today if you need a safety audit or help with your OSHA compliance.

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