Safety and OSHA News

Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations

What are OSHA inspectors targeting now? The agency has released its top 10 violations for fiscal year 2011.

The Deputy Director for OSHA’s Directorate of Environmental Programs, Patrick Kapust, provided the new list at the National Safety Council’s annual Congress.

The list includes a mix of general industry and construction standards:

  1. Fall protection in construction (1926.501): 7,139 violations; the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says 260 workers died in fiscal year 2010 due to violations of this standard.
  2. Scaffolding in construction (1926.451): 7,069 violations; BLS says in FY 2010, 37 workers died because of incidents involving faulty scaffolding.
  3. Hazard communication (1910.1200): 6,538 violations; Kapust says in one fatal incident involving hazard communication, an employee lit a lighter to see the level of material inside a barrel, and the substance ignited. Proper labeling should have indicated how full the barrel was and that the material inside was combustible.
  4. Respiratory protection (1910.134): 3,944 violations; five million workers in the U.S. are covered under this standard and are required to wear respirators at their jobs.
  5. Lockout/tagout (1910.147): 3,639 violations; the average days away from work for employees injured in incidents connected to this standard is 24.
  6. Electrical wiring methods (1910.305); 3,584 violations; employees affected by this standard range from engineers, electricians, and other professionals who work with electricity directly, to office workers and administrative staff who use any type of electrical equipment.
  7. Powered industrial trucks (1910.178); 3,432 violations; BLS says in FY 2010, there were 8,410 injuries connected to use of powered industrial trucks, such as forklifts.
  8. Ladders in construction (1926.1053): 3,244 violations; falls are consistently one of the top three causes of worker fatalities.
  9. Electrical general requirements (1910.303): 2,863 violations; this standard seeks to prevent injuries and deaths from electric shock, fires and explosions.
  10. Machine guarding (1910.212): 2,748 violations; this standard also covers anchoring of equipment.

This list covers the period from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011.

For compliance assistance on these standards, you can go to OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics pages.
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  1. Kelly Forrest, RSP, COSS says:

    Any was to print these articles in a “printer friendly” way??? Love your newsletter, very informative, but really would like to have this option to be able to send info through our intra-net. Like the info so much I have a file just for Safety News Alerts for my people. I even use the info to help with our executive safety education.

    Can you add this feature???

  2. Editor’s note: Thanks Kelly. I’ve asked the Power That Be to do this for our readers.

  3. Last Year’s list in order:
    1926.451 – Scaffolding
    1926.501 – Fall Protection
    1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
    1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
    1926.1053 – Ladders
    1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
    1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
    1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
    1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements
    1910.212 – Machine Guarding

    I have a few takeaways. The list is basically the same (some standards up or down a few positions) every year. If these are the most frequently cited standards year after year it points to some combination of the following:

    1. OSHA enforcement is ineffective in deterring these violations, and outreach is ineffective in increasing awareness of the hazards.
    2. These standards are written such that they are easy “low hanging fruit” for inpsectors to grab a citation.
    3. The standards are written so that typical employers have difficulty understanding and applying the principles.
    4. The standars are written such that it is nearly impossible to be 100% compliant with the standards at all times, tie back to #2 and #3.
    5. Employers violate the same standards over and over again knowing full well that inspectors will be looking for these during an inspection resulting in public fines and loss of bargaining power against the unions. (almost laughable)
    6. Safety Professionals have the lowest IQ of any job profession. Having this list and still failing year after year is like having the answers to a test before taking it and still failing.

    Before anyone gets after me on point 6, I am a safety professional and I do not believe #6 is true. I am simply attempting to make a point. OSHA can publish all the information in the world and cite as many companies as they want, and they always get to say “I told you so”, or “It’s one of the most frequently cited standards, company XYZ should have known better”. OSHA has no skin in the game. Why is no one asking why they continue to cite the same standards over and…

  4. chuck glover says:

    While the list may remain fairly consistent, are the numbers of violations decreasing? If not, shame on us, and maybe OSHA. If so, then job well done.

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