Each year OSHA releases their top ten list — the most frequently cited violations of OSHA standards across all industries. Complying with OSHA standards helps you keep workers safe and avoid costly fines.
Fall Protection: Violation Code 1926.501
OSHA reports falling as the most common cause of work related injuries and deaths.
Everyone has the right to a safe workplace. Failure to provide proper fall protection tops OSHA's list of compliance violations. Keeping employees safe and healthy helps your business thrive, and avoids costly OSHA violations. Following OSHA recommendations
for fall protection will minimize the risk of injury and keep your business compliant.
To help protect staff from falls and injuries OSHA requires employers to:
Provide working conditions that are free of known dangers
Keep floors in work areas in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition
Select and provide required personal protective equipment at no cost to workers
Train workers about job hazards in a language that they can understand
Fall Prevention Tips
There are simple things you can do to keep your facility safe:
Master List Keep a list of all of the hazardous chemicals used on site and keep a copy in the
Labels OSHA has updated the requirements for labeling of hazardous chemicals, and as of June 2015 chemical labels must comply with the new format. Some chemicals are ordered in bulk and then transferred to smaller, more portable containers.
Be sure to use proper labels on these
secondary containers to stay compliant.
Scaffolding: Violation Code 1926.451
Minimize injuries and deaths caused by scaffolding accidents.
The use of
scaffolding on a property increases employee risk of injury. OSHA regulations regarding scaffolding are set in place to minimize injuries and deaths caused by scaffolding accidents.
The most common scaffolding accidents include:
Planking or support giving way
Structural instability and overloading
Complying with OSHA standards will control these types of accidents and help keep workers safe. Common scaffolding violations have to do with improper construction of the scaffolding. Avoid fines and improve scaffold safety by ensuring:
Fully floored scaffold deck
Completely level scaffold
Scaffold that is able to support its intended load
Safe access to scaffold via fixed ladders
Proper protection from fall, or falling objects such as guardrails, toe boards, screens, and netting
Scaffold components approved by a competent person
Inspect scaffold daily
Training staff on scaffold safety helps everyone comply with OSHA standards and improves safety. Consult with
OSHA for full guidelines and rules related to scaffolding.
Respiratory Protection: Violation Code 1910.134
Protect workers from environments with possible respiratory hazards.
OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard is the fourth most common compliance violation. The purpose of this standard aligns with OSHA's overall mission to provide workers with a safe working environment. Respirators can protect workers against environments
where there may be:
Fogs, smokes, mists
Gases, vapors, sprays
Working and breathing in these conditions may cause cancer, lung damage, or other diseases.
OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard States:
"A respirator shall be provided to each employee when such equipment is necessary to protect the health of such employee. The employer shall provide the respirators which are applicable and suitable for the purpose intended. The employer
shall be responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a respiratory protection program..."
Comply with OSHA's Standard by establishing a written respiratory protection program:
OSHA requires employers have the right kind of respirators available. Choosing a
half-mask depends on the environment and the type of airborne contaminant. According to OSHA, "assessment should be done by experienced
safety personnel or by an industrial hygienist";
consult OSHA directly for more information.
Many industries use powered industrial trucks, or forklifts, to move large loads, pallets, or crates. OSHA violations involving powered industrial trucks are the fifth most common citation. OSHA's standard is designed to keep employees safe while
working with and around forklifts. It requires forklift operators be over the age of 18, and all forklift operators must go through proper training and licensing. In addition, they are subject to performance evaluations and refresher training.
The work environment must be clear of hazards. When using forklifts:
OSHA's standard for the Control of Hazardous Energy, more commonly known as Lockout/Tagout is designed to protect workers who service and maintain powered equipment and machines. Each year workers are injured and killed because lockout/tagout procedures
were not followed prior to working on machines.
Machines or equipment power by electricity, hydraulics, pneumatics, or other energy sources, have been known to restart unexpectedly or release stored energy during maintenance, endangering and harming workers. It is vital machines are stopped,
disconnected from power, and the energy is controlled before service. This protects employees from electrocution, burns, cuts, crushing, fractures, and death.
Violating OSHA's standard can result in danger for employees and costly fines to your business. Complying with Lockout/Tagout is fairly easy since OSHA allows businesses "flexibility to develop an energy control program suited to the needs
of the particular workplace and the types of machines and equipment being maintained or serviced."
Prepare for Lockout/Tagout:
Employee Training It's vital that employees are property trained and completely understand the energy control procedures and the OSHA requirements.
Inspect New Equipment Ensure that any new equipment can be locked out. For any equipment that cannot be locked out, develop and enforce tag out procedures.
Lockout/Tagout Kits and Stations Use only authorized Lockout/Tagout devices for specific equipment and machines, including
Misuse of ladders in the workplace is seventh on the top ten list of OSHA violations. This commonly used maintenance tool is often a source of injury and death each year. OSHA's standards regarding ladders are designed to protect workers and promote
a safer workplace.
The eighth most common OSHA violation involves electrical wiring. OSHA aims to protect employees who work directly with electricity, like electricians, engineers, and maintenance technicians. They also recognize the fact that office workers, sales
people, and clerical staff, who work indirectly with electricity, may also risk electrical danger.
OSHA's standard regarding electrical wiring aims to keep workers safe from electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions. OSHA's states:
"Electrical equipment shall be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees."
OSHA violations regarding electrical wiring most often involve:
Ungrounded Equipment If electrical equipment is ungrounded, there is increased risk of electrocution and fires. Electrical current will naturally find its way to the ground and will go through the human body to get there. Electrocution will cause injury
and sometimes death. Your property should be wired with 3-prong or
GFCI outlets, and all cords, plugs, and tools should be in good condition, free of fraying or other damage.
Exposed Wiring Exposed electrical wiring increases risk of electrical fires and electrocution. Common OSHA violations include missing covers from
light switches. Wiring should be properly insulated and protected at all times.
Misused or Damaged Cords Flexible cords, such as
extension cords, are common in the workplace, and can be a source of electrical hazard. OSHA forbids the use of worn or frayed electric cords and cables, and "extension
cords shall not be fastened with staples, hung from nails, or suspended by wire." Be sure to check all cords for wear and damage. Make sure there are no loose or expose wires creating hazardous conditions and danger in the workplace.
Misused Equipment OSHA requires equipment be used as intended. Common violations include indoor-rated electrical receptacles installed outdoors. Only
outdoor-rated receptacles can withstand exposure to weather and damp conditions. Other hazards include using consumer-rated coffee
makers and fans in a work setting. Consumer-rated appliances are not built for continuous use and oftentimes are not grounded, increasing the risk of fire. Be sure to have fire extinguishers on hand, and use
commercial-rated coffee makers,
appliances in your place of business.
Machinery and Machine Guarding: Violation Code 1910.212
Employees who use machines with moving parts, including power tools and hand tools, are at risk for serious injuries.
As the ninth most violated OSHA standard, machinery and machine guarding can be easily handled with the right equipment and safety standards.
OSHA's standard relating to machine guarding "is to protect the machine operator and other employees in the work area from hazards created by ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks."
Keep employees safe by guarding any moving parts, sharp edges, and hot surfaces. Also use markers and
signage to notify fellow employees when and where machines and power tools are used.
Train employees on proper use and handling of machines and tools to help reduce risk. Keep well stocked
first aid kits on hand in case of accidents.
To learn more,
consult OSHA directly and make sure your business stays compliant and keeps workers as safe as possible.
Electrical Systems: Violation Code 1910.303
Protect employees who work directly with electricity.
The tenth most common OSHA violation has to do with general electrical systems including "mechanical strength and durability." OSHA more often finds violations related to electrical wiring, but this standard does make the top ten list.
Employees who work directly with electricity are at risk for electrocution, burns, injury, and death. Therefore, OSHA aims to keep workers safe requiring that workers are properly protected. Provide protective gloves and insulated tools for employees
working on electrical systems.
Common violations involve:
Type, Size, Voltage, Current Capacity Electrical equipment must be the right power and size for its intended use.
Proper Mounting Electrical equipment should be properly and securely mounted to avoid injury and fire hazards.
Electrical Insulation Insulation protects employees and property from fire hazards.
Missing Covers on Panels/Breaker Boxes Electrical panels,
boxes should be properly maintained and labeled.
Arcing Electric equipment that produces arcs, sparks, flames, or molten metal must be enclosed or separated, and should not come in contact with any combustible materials.
These are only some of the issues OSHA addresses regarding electrical systems. Consult OSHA directly to for a complete list of their safety standards and requirements.
NOTE: This information is a summary interpretation and was prepared as general reference material only. This summary is not authoritative as laws can be amended over time. For specific compliance requirements and updates, please refer to the actual
code language and the statute or legal counsel.