OSHAs Top 10

OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Offenses in 2021

OSHA publishes its “Top 10 Most Cited List” each fiscal year, running from October 1 to September 30. This list detailing what the top 10 OSHA violations are is a convenient reminder of the most common safety violations. In a way, it can be used as a tool to point out what to watch for in your safety program. This article addresses citations and violations, looks at the top 10 and touches on what that means for your operations.

OSHA Citations vs. Violations

OSHA issues a citation when they find a violation of safety standards. That citation also specifies a deadline for resolving the violation. There are several levels of violations. They range from serious to willful to failure to abate. 

The penalties can range from zero up to a maximum of $13,653 per violation. That can be a powerful motivator to correct the violation. It can and should be a motivator to prevent the violation in the first place. Learn more in our article The Cost of OSHA Citations — Prevention vs. Penalty. 

What Are the Top 10 OSHA Violations?

What is the most common source of OSHA citations? Here’s the OSHA Top 10 for FY2021, including the number of violations cited by OSHA inspectors. 

  1. Fall Protection, construction (1926.501) with 5,295 violations.
  2. Respiratory Protection, general industry (1910.134) with 2,527 violations.
  3. Ladders, construction (1926.1053) with 2,026 violations.
  4. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (1926.451) with 1,948 violations.
  5. Hazard Communication Standard, general industry (1910.1200) with 1,947 violations.
  6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (1910.147) with 1,698 violations.
  7. Fall Protection, Training Requirements (1926.503) with 1,666 violations.
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment, Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) with 1,452 violations.
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (1910.178) with 1,420 violations.
  10. Machine Guarding, general requirements (1910.212) with 1,113 violations.

The list detailing what the top 10 OSHA violations are doesn’t change much from one year to the next. Fall protection has the distinction of ranking number one for the past 11 years. In 2021, hazard communication dropped from second to fifth. Scaffolding and ladders swapped places. But it’s the same top 10 and the perfect starting point for reviewing your safety efforts. 

Digging Deeper into the Top 10 OSHA Violations

If we weren’t already aware, the OSHA list points out just how important safety precautions are and working with a construction safety consultant can be when employees work at heights. Fall protection (1st), ladders (3rd), scaffolding (4th), and fall protection training (7th) reinforce that importance. And if further data is needed to make the point, these four violations accounted for 52% of the total 21,092 violations recorded in the top 10.

While machine guarding is at the bottom of the list with 1,113 violations, it’s no less important. One example from 2021 emphasizes the point. An OSHA investigation found that an employee was allowed to bypass the protection needed to prevent a barrier door from closing. And, you guessed it, the equipment malfunctioned. The closing door struck the worker’s head and he was killed. The disaster happened so quickly, seemingly in a single moment. But it was repeated failure to follow safety regulations and procedures that resulted in this unnecessary death.

A good starting point to make sure this doesn’t happen to you and your employees is regularly following a safety audit checklist. We’ve outlined the details in our article Your Simple Safety Audit Checklist for an OSHA Inspection

Learn More About OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited

Now that you know what the top 10 OSHA violations are, would you like to learn more? Attend our upcoming free webinar titled OSHA Top 10 Most Cited. This webinar will examine the top citations for 2021. Our presenters will break down each citation and explain the differences between serious and non-serious or other terminology that may affect your citation or inspection frequency. We will also make recommendations that could prevent your organization from becoming another statistic in 2022.

Learn more and sign up at OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited

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