Current Top 10 List of Most Commonly Cited OSHA Safety Violations

David Letterman has his Top 1- list and so does OSHA! Even though it is 2017, the most recent year for which OSHA has released its top 10 most frequently cited violations of OSHA standards for all companies and industries in is 2015. OSHA made approximately 94,000 citations in 2015. This list of top 10 accounts for almost half of all violations issued by OSHA. Here it is with the regulation, a link to the exact language of the regulation and citation, a general description and the total of penalties assessed (the number of assessments is from 2015: (sources OSHA.gov, : National Safety Council)  for Fiscal 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015). The NSC notes that the number of top 10 violations has increased almost 30 percent over the same time period of the prior year .

1. 1926.501 - Fall Protection (Construction standard) -  8,241 violations. Any time a worker is at a height of four feet or more, the worker is at risk and needs to be protected. Fall protection must be provided at four feet in general industry, five feet in maritime and six feet in construction.

2. 1910.1200 - Hazard Communication - 6,156 violations - Chemical manufacturers and importers are required to evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce or import, and prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazard information to their downstream customers.

3. 1926.451 - Scaffolding5,423 (Construction standard) - 5,423 violations - Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

4. 1910.134 - Respiratory Protection - 3,879 violations - Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.

5. 1910.147 - Lockout/Tagout - 3,254 violations - "Lockout-Tag out" refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

6. 1910.178 - Powered Industrial Trucks - 3,340 violations - Each year, thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

7. 1926.1053 - Ladders (Construction standard) - 3,311 violations - Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.

8. 1910.305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods - 3,452 violations - Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

9. 1910.212 - Machine Guarding - 2,701 violations - Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

10. 1910.303 - Electrical, General Requirements - 2,745 violations - Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

*As of 10/25/15

Other useful OSHA statistics

Federal OSHA is a small agency; even with their state counterparts,  they have approximately 2,200 inspectors covering 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation, which is equivalent to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.

Federal OSHA has 10 regional offices and 90 local area offices.

OSHA budget

FY 2013: $535,246,000
FY 2014: $552,247,000
FY 2015: $552,787,000

OSHA inspections

FY 2014 total federal inspections: 36,163
FY 2014 total State Plan inspections: 47,217

Worker injuries, illnesses and fatalities

  • 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013 [BLS preliminary 2013 workplace fatality data] (3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) – on average, 85 a week or more than 12 deaths every day. (This is the lowest total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992.)
  • 797 Hispanic or Latino workers were killed from work-related injuries in 2013–on average, more than 15 deaths a week or two Latino workers killed every single day of the year, all year long.
  • Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 17 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2013.

Construction's "Fatal Four"

Out of 3,929* worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2013, 796 or 20.3% were in construction―that is, one in five worker deaths last year were in construction. The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. These "Fatal Four" were responsible for more than half (58.7%) the construction worker deaths in 2013*, BLS reports. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 468 workers' lives in America every year.

Falls

 294 out of 796 total deaths in construction in calendar year 2013 (36.9%)
Struck by Object — 82 (10.3%)
Electrocutions — 71 (8.9%)
Caught-in/between — 21 (2.6%)


Comparison: The 2008 violations list

1. 1926.451 – Scaffolding  - (same rank as 2009) - 9,093 violations - Scaffold accidents most often result from the planking or support giving way, or from the employee slipping or being struck by a falling object.

2. 1926.501 – Fall Protection - (same rank as 2009) - 6,771 violations

3. 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication -(same rank as 2009) -  6,378 violations

4. 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection - (same rank as 2009) - 3,803 violations - Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, fogs, smokes, mists, gases, vapors and sprays. These hazards may cause cancer, lung impairment, other diseases or death.

5. 1926.1053 – Ladders - (was #7 in 2009) - 3,072 violations - Occupational fatalities caused by falls remain a serious public health problem. The US Department of Labor (DOL) lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma.

6. 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout- (was #5 in 2009) - 3,321 violations - "Lockout-Tag out" refers to specific practices and procedures to safeguard employees from the unexpected startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

7. 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods - (was #6 in 2009) - 3,079 violations - Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

8. 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks - (was #8 in 2009) - 2,993 violations - Each year, tens of thousands of injuries related to powered industrial trucks (PIT), or forklifts, occur in US workplaces. Many employees are injured when lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks, lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer, they are struck by a lift truck, or when they fall while on elevated pallets and tines.

9. 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements - (was #9 in 2009) - 2,556 violations - Working with electricity can be dangerous. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales people, work with electricity indirectly and may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

10.  1910.212 – Machine Guarding - (was #10 in 2009) - 2,364 violations - Any machine part, function, or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact injures the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.


10 Year Trend

For a 10 year comparison of trends, here is the 2004 list.   Each item is prefaced with the regulation that was violated. Not a great deal of change. 

1. 29CFR1926.451 -- Scaffolding; 8,654 total violations; $3,566,107 in penalties;

2. 29CFR1910.1200 -- Hazard communication; 7,320 total violations; $745,810 in penalties;

3. 29CFR1926.501 -- Fall protection; 5,666 total violations; $3,255,974 in penalties;

4. 29CFR1910.134 -- Respiratory protection; 4,312 total violations; $562,372 in penalties;

5. 29CFR1910.147 -- Lockout/tagout; 4,307 total violations; $1,950,134 in penalties;

6. 29CFR1910.305 -- Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment machine guarding; 3,337 total violations; $813,462 in penalties;

7. 29CFR1910.212 -- Machine guarding; 3,249 total violations; $2,277,629 in penalties;

8. 29CFR1910.178 -- Powered industrial trucks; 3,149 total violations; $1,084,870 in penalties;

9. 29CFR1910.303 -- Electrical systems design; 2,412 total violations; $757,568 in penalties;

10. 29CFR1910.219 -- Mechanical power-transmission apparatus; 2,333 total violations; $878,982 in penalties.

Frequently Asked Questions About OSHA Violations And OSHA Standards

  • How many inspectors does OSHA have?
    Federal OSHA is a small agency; with our state partners we have approximately 2,200 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers, employed at more than 8 million worksites around the nation - which translates to about one compliance officer for every 59,000 workers.

  • Has my employer ever been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?
    You can research your employer's inspection history through OSHA's Establishment Search. Type in the name of your company and choose the dates you want to cover.

  • What are the penalties for violating an OSHA standard?
    The maximum penalty OSHA can assess, regardless of the circumstances, is $7,000 for each serious violation and $70,000 for a repeated or willful violation. OSHA's penalty policy, including minimums, maximums and factors considered when assessing the penalty, can be found in Chapter Six, page 151, of the Field Operations Manual (PDF*).

  • What are employers' responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act?
    Employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers MUST provide their workers with a workplace that does not have serious hazards and must follow all OSHA safety and health standards. Employers must find and correct safety and health problems. OSHA further requires that employers must first try to eliminate or reduce hazards by making feasible changes in working conditions rather than relying on personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, or earplugs. Switching to safer chemicals, enclosing processes to trap harmful fumes, or using ventilation systems to clean the air are examples of effective ways to eliminate or reduce risks.

    For more information, see the Employer Responsibilities page.

  • What can I do if I think my workplace is unsafe?
    Often the best and fastest way to get a hazard corrected is to notify a supervisor or employer.

    Workers, or their representatives, may file a complaint and ask OSHA to inspect their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or their employer is not following OSHA standards. A worker can tell OSHA not to let an employer know who filed the complaint. It is against the OSH Act for an employer to fire, demote, transfer or discriminate in any way against a worker for filing a complaint or using other OSHA rights.

    You can file a complaint online; download the form [en espanol*] and mail or fax it to the nearest OSHA office; or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Written, signed complaints submitted to OSHA area offices are more likely to result in an on-site OSHA inspection. Most online or unsigned complaints are resolved informally over the phone with the employer. Complaints from workers in states with an OSHA-approved state plan will be forwarded to the appropriate state plan for response.

    Workers have the right to participate in an OSHA inspection and speak in private with the inspector.

    Where there is no union or employee representative, the OSHA inspector must talk confidentially with a reasonable number of workers during the course of the investigation.An inspector who finds violations of OSHA standards or serious hazards may issue citations and fines. A citation includes the methods an employer must use to fix a problem and the date by when the corrective actions must be completed. Workers only have the right to challenge the deadline for when a problem must be resolved. Employers, on the other hand, have the right to contest whether there is a violation or any other part of the citation. Workers or their representatives must notify OSHA that they want to be involved in the appeals process if the employer challenges a citation.

    If you send in a complaint requesting an OSHA inspection, you have the right to find out the results of the OSHA inspection and request a review if OSHA decides not to issue citations.

    See OSHA's Workers' Rights page for more information.

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