Top 10 OSHA Safety Violations - View Most-cited | HD Supply
OSHA Top Ten Violations

OSHA's Top Ten Violations

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.

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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.

OSHA Requirements

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:

Consult OSHA directly for more detailed information

Hazard Communication: Violation Code 1910.1200

Minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

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Hazard Communication or HazCom violations are the second most common OSHA violation. OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard aims to minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

The Hazard Communication Standard requires "the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers."

OSHA states that:

"All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately."

Recent Changes

As of 2013, The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This change provides employees the right to know and understand about the hazardous chemicals in the workplace and how to protect themselves. It also creates new label elements, pictograms, and standardizes Safety Data Sheets (SDS) with a 16-section format.

As of June 1, 2015, all labels will be required to have pictograms, a signal word, hazard and precautionary statements, the product identifier, and supplier identification. Learn More

Complying with Hazard Communication Standard

Avoid HazCom violations and the fines with these tips:

  • Employee Training
    OSHA requires employees be trained on the hazards of chemicals in the workplace, protection procedures, and Safety Data Sheets.
  • Written Program
    Your company should have a written hazard communications program that outlines your commitment to chemical safety.
  • SDS/MSDS Binder
    Keep your SDS/MSDS binder up to date and current.
  • Master List
    Keep a list of all of the hazardous chemicals used on site and keep a copy in the SDS binder.
  • 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.

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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
  • Workers slipping
  • Falling objects
  • Electrocution
  • 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.

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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:

  • Insufficient oxygen
  • Harmful dusts
  • 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:

  • Provide the correct respirators
  • Provide training on proper use
  • Require employee fit testing
  • Provide medical evaluations
  • Ensure proper care, maintenance, and use

Choosing the Right Respirators

OSHA requires employers have the right kind of respirators available. Choosing a disposable respirator, full-face, or 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.

Powered Industrial Trucks: Violation Code 1910.178

Keep employees safe while working with and around forklifts.

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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:

  • Have clear view of the travel path, free of clutter, storage bins, racks, etc.
  • Use stop signs and sound the horn at intersections
  • Drive slowly and obey speed limits
  • Repair cracks and damage on loading docks, aisles, or driving surfaces
  • Post signs where there is pedestrian traffic
  • Inspect vehicles daily for safety issues before use

Protect workers from injury and death by following OSHA's safety standards for forklifts.

Lockout/Tagout: Violation Code 1910.147

Protect workers who service and maintain powered equipment and machines.

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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 padlocks, cable locks, hasps, labels, tags, etc.

For complete information on the Lockout/Tagout requirements, consult OSHA directly.

Ladders: Violation Code 1926.1053

OSHA's standards regarding ladders are designed to protect workers and promote a safer workplace.

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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.

Employees should be trained on ladder safety so they can easily recognize and eliminate hazards.

Common mistakes workers make when using ladders include:

  • Wrong Type or Size
    Workers may be using a step ladder when a full-size ladder is needed.
  • Damaged Ladders
    Do not use ladders that are bent, missing a step, or cannot lock the spreader bars.
  • Standing on the Top Rung
    The top step is not meant for standing on; you are more likely to lose your balance and fall.
  • Uneven and Unstable Surfaces
    The base of the ladder should be secured on a flat even surface; never put a ladder on top of boxes of pallets to try to make it taller.
  • Ladders in High-traffic Areas
    Use safety cones or other markers to and keep coworkers or pedestrians away from your ladder work area.
  • Carrying Objects When Climbing
    Carrying even a small load can cause you to lose balance. Use of a tool carryall or pouch would help keep your hands free while climbing ladders.

Electrical Wiring: Violation Code 1910.12

Protect employees who work directly with electricity.

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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 grounded receptacles, 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 junction boxes, outlets, and 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, fans, and 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.

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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.

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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, switches, and 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.