|Written by Liz McDermott
Did you know that businesses that provide safety training to their workers can reduce the rate of workplace accidents and injuries by up to 60%? Also, according to OSHA, 80% of workplace accidents are caused by behaviors, whereas 20% are caused by unsafe conditions.
Understanding and adhering to OSHA standards is crucial for workplace safety in American businesses. Let's explore the most frequently cited OSHA violations, significant infractions, general requirements, and critical standards companies should prioritize.
In this post, we answer common questions such as:
- What are the top ten OSHA violations for 2023?
- What qualifies as an OSHA violation?
- Which OSHA violation carries the highest penalty?
- Can OSHA shut a company down?
- What must be reported to OSHA?
- What are the top three OSHA-cited ladder violations?
- What are the most common fall protection violations?
- What are the most frequently cited serious OSHA violations involving roofing and fall protection?
- What is the most common OSHA violation in construction?
- When does the National Safety Council release the OSHA Top 10 Violations list each year?
Determining what safety training is necessary for your workplace can be challenging. Generally, most workplaces are bound to provide safety training on one or more topics. A helpful starting point is to review the top 10 safety violations each year.
Before we dive in, Vubiz offers safety courses that cover OSHA's top 10 violations. To find other safety topics specific to your workplace, download our Safety Training by Risk Level tool sheet.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updates the list of top violations every year, but some common ones include fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, and lockout/tagout.
This year's top 10 OSHA violations included:
- Fall Protection – General Requirements: 7,271 violations
- Hazard Communication: 3,213 violations
- Ladders: 2,978 violations
- Scaffolding: 2,859 violations
- Powered Industrial Trucks: 2,561 violations
- Lockout/Tagout: 2,554 violations
- Respiratory Protection: 2,481 violations
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 2,112 violations
- Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection: 2,074 violations
- Machine Guarding: 1,644 violations
Fall protection is often the most significant OSHA violation due to its potential for severe injuries and fatalities.
Five essential OSHA standards cover fall protection, hazard communication, respiratory protection, electrical safety, and machine guarding. Most workplaces require training on at least one of these safety topics based on the level of risk.
Any violation of OSHA standards, such as inadequate training, lack of protective measures, or insufficient hazard communication, is considered a deviation. Non-compliance can lead to legal actions and penalties.
Penalties for violations can vary, but intentional violations that result in serious injuries or fatalities usually carry the heaviest penalties. Beginning in January 2023, the maximum penalty for repeated or willful violations will increase from $145,027 per violation to $156,259 per violation.
The severity of OSHA violations varies depending on factors such as the level of danger, employer knowledge of workplace hazards, and the potential for harm. Willful violations and those causing fatalities are generally regarded as the most serious.
To maintain a safe work environment, it is important to prioritize implementing proper safety measures. Some common workplace safety violations that can be addressed include ensuring adequate fall protection, implementing lockout/tagout procedures, improving hazard communication, and providing sufficient respiratory protection.
According to OSHA, specific safety standards are violated more frequently than others. These include fall protection, which involves preventing falls from heights; hazard communication, which requires proper labeling and communication of hazardous materials; scaffolding, which involves the safe use of structures for working at heights; respiratory protection, which consists of the use of equipment to protect workers from breathing in harmful substances; and lockout/tagout, which requires proper procedures for de-energizing equipment during maintenance to prevent accidental start-up.
For the latest information, check OSHA's current reports. As of the most recent data released by OSHA and the National Safety Council, fall protection topped the list with 7,271 violations in 2023.
It's worth noting that OSHA can take swift action and issue stop-work orders or shut down operations in the event of imminent danger or egregious violations that pose serious risks to workers.
Employers are required to report all work-related deaths to OSHA within 8 hours and severe injuries within 24 hours.
Common safety violations include improper use of personal protective equipment, inadequate machine guarding, electrical hazards, and failure to implement workplace safety standards and protocols.
One of the most notable OSHA cases is the Imperial Sugar Company case in 2008, where a combustible dust explosion in a Georgia refinery resulted in fatalities and injuries. Since 2003, dust explosions have been a concern for U.S. authorities due to three fatal accidents. Safety measures were taken to prevent reoccurrence. Fourteen people died, and thirty-six were injured in the latest incident.
It's important to avoid common ladder violations to ensure safety while using a ladder. These include using the right ladder for the job, setting it up correctly, and inspecting it regularly. Remembering these simple steps can help keep you safe while working at heights.
Willful violations, especially those leading to severe injuries or fatalities, are considered the most serious by OSHA.
It is important to be aware of common fall protection violations. These include inadequate guardrails, failure to meet general requirements, improper use of personal fall arrest systems, and inadequate training.
19. What are the most frequently cited serious OSHA violations involving roofing and fall protection?
To ensure safety on rooftops, it's crucial to prioritize fall protection measures. Common roofing violations can be avoided by implementing proper safety harness use and installing guardrails where needed.
Protecting workers from falls is crucial in the construction industry. Unfortunately, guardrail and personal fall arrest system violations are all too common.
General industry OSHA standards (1910) cover many sectors, including manufacturing, warehousing, and service.
In construction safety, the violations that tend to be cited most frequently are those that pertain to the safety of workers at risk of falling, such as fall protection measures and scaffolding. Additionally, electrical safety is an area that is often scrutinized due to the high risk of electrocution and other serious accidents.
The National Safety Council (NSC) usually publishes its list of the ten most frequently cited OSHA violations annually in the Fall season. Safety+Health magazine, an NSC publication, releases an in-depth analysis of these top 10 violations in the December edition.
Understanding and prioritizing these aspects of OSHA compliance is crucial for fostering a safe and secure work environment. Refer to the latest OSHA guidelines and reports for the most up-to-date information.