Top 10 Things to Avoid: OSHA Violations List Explained

Top 10 Things to Avoid: OSHA Violations List Explained

OSHA’s Top 10 Cited Standards

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes a list of the most frequently cited violations, OSHA’s top 10 cited standards. Think of the OSHA violations list as what not to do! In this blog, we will break down each item, explain what the standard means, identify common issues, discuss common injuries that can result, and offer strategies for avoiding these issues.

1. Fall Protection in Construction (29 CFR 1926.501

  • Definition: This standard pertains to conditions on a walking-working surface that pose a fall risk for an employee, either on the same level or a lower one. “Fall protection” refers to equipment, devices, or systems designed to prevent or mitigate the impact of falls.

  • Common Issues: Lack of guardrails, inadequate coverings over holes, and unprotected edges.

  • Common Injuries: Broken bones, concussions, sprains, and, in severe cases, fatalities.

  • Avoidance Tips: Implement a Working at Heights policy and outline fall protection requirements, install guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems. Regularly inspect sites for fall hazards.

2. Hazard Communication in General Industry (29 CFR 1910.1200

  • Definition: This standard ensures that employees exposed to chemical hazards are informed about these hazards. Communication methods include labels on containers and safety data sheets (SDS).

  • Common Issues: Failure to properly label hazardous chemicals or lack of safety data sheets.

  • Common Injuries: Chemical burns, respiratory problems, blindness, or poisoning.

  • Avoidance Tips: Implement a HazCom Policy, maintain an updated list of all hazardous chemicals, ensure proper labeling, and train employees on the safe handling of chemicals.

3. Ladders in Construction (29 CFR 1926.1053

  • Definition: This standard sets safety guidelines for the use, design, and construction of ladders in the construction sector to ensure workers are protected from hazards.

  • Common Issues: Using broken ladders, incorrect ladder placement, and overreaching.

  • Common Injuries: Sprains, fractures, head injuries, or spinal injuries.

  • Avoidance Tips: Implement a Working at Heights policy, regularly inspect ladders for damages, ensure they are placed on stable ground, and remind employees always to maintain three points of contact.

4. Respiratory Protection in General Industry (29 CFR 1910.134

  • Definition: This standard addresses the need for protective measures against respiratory hazards. It also mandates the correct use and provision of respirators.

  • Common Issues: Not providing respirators or not training employees on their proper use.

  • Common Injuries: Respiratory diseases, asphyxiation, or long-term lung conditions.

  • Avoidance Tips: Assess the workspace for respiratory hazards, provide appropriate respirators, have a Respiratory Protection Policy, and offer regular training.

5. Scaffolding in Construction (29 CFR 1926.451

  • Definition: This standard emphasizes the safety aspects of erecting, maintaining, and using scaffolds in construction to prevent falls and other related incidents.

  • Common Issues: Overloading scaffolds, using damaged parts, or failing to install guardrails.

  • Common Injuries: Falls leading to fractures, head trauma, or fatal injuries.

  • Avoidance Tips: Regularly inspect scaffolds, follow the manufacturer’s load recommendations, have a Working at Heights policy, and ensure the installation of guardrails.

6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) in General Industry (29 CFR 1910.147

  • Definition: This standard provides guidelines for controlling hazardous energy during the service or maintenance of machines and equipment.

  • Common Issues: Not having policies and procedures in place, not training employees, or not using lockout/tagout devices.

  • Avoidance Tips: Develop lockout/tagout procedures, train employees, and use appropriate lockout/tagout devices.

  • Common Injuries: Electrocution, burns, or injuries from moving machine parts.

  • Avoidance Tips: Develop a lockout/tagout policy, train employees, and use appropriate lockout/tagout devices.

7. Powered Industrial Trucks in General Industry (29 CFR 1910.178

  • Definition: This standard covers safety requirements for the use of forklifts and other powered industrial trucks.

  • Common Issues: Lack of operator training, poorly maintained trucks, or unsafe operations.

  • Common Injuries: Crush injuries, fractures, or fatalities from overturned trucks.

  • Avoidance Tips: Have a LOTO policy in place, ensure operators are trained and certified, maintain equipment, and enforce safe operating procedures.

8. Fall Protection Training in Construction (29 CFR 1926.503

  • Definition: This standard mandates training for workers on recognizing and dealing with fall hazards in construction.

  • Common Issues: Failing to provide fall protection training to workers.

  • Common Injuries: Sprains, fractures, or traumatic brain injuries due to untrained responses to falls.

  • Avoidance Tips: Ensure all workers receive adequate training on recognizing and preventing fall hazards and have a policy that outlines company requirements.

9. Eye and Face Protection in Construction (29 CFR 1926.102

  • Definition: This standard enforces appropriate eye and face protection to shield workers from flying particles, molten metal, or harmful light radiation.

  • Common Issues: Not providing or incorrectly using eye and face protection.

  • Common Injuries: Eye abrasions, chemical splashes leading to blindness, or facial burns.

  • Avoidance Tips: Have a PPE policy, supply appropriate eye and face protection, and train workers on correct usage.

10. Machinery and Machine Guarding in General Industry (29 CFR 1910.212

  • Definition: This standard prescribes the safeguarding of machinery to protect operators and other employees from hazards created by moving machine parts.

  • Common Issues: Machines without guards or machines with damaged guards.

  • Common Injuries: Amputations, lacerations, or crush injuries.

  • Avoidance Tips: Regularly inspect machines, ensure guards are in place and undamaged, and train employees on safe machine operation. In addition, your discipline policy should outline consequences for any employee removing or disabling guards. This sort of violation should be a termination offense.

For a deeper dive into each standard and additional safety resources, visit the OSHA Law and Regulations page. Employers can also explore OSHA’s Violation List for specific industries using the NAICS code search or view the industry profile for violations of any OSHA standard here.

If you don’t have a formalized safety program, that is where you should start. For additional guidance, check out our blog post on developing a safety program. Smarter Risk’s app makes this 90% faster and 80% less expensive; sign up for free here. Policies are the backbone of any safety program as they set clear expectations. There is no time like the present. Get started today.