The Top 10 OSHA Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

The Top 10 OSHA Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

In October 2021, OSHA released its preliminary data for its top 10 most-cited standards for fiscal year 2021. The data includes violations the agency issued between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021. The preliminary list was presented at the 2021 NSC Safety Congress and Expo, and the final results will be released in the coming months.

For the 11th straight year, Fall Protection tops the list. In truth, not much on this list has changed, although Hazard Communication moved to number five from number two last year.

Although it would be tempting to give the annual list a casual glance and move on with business as usual, OSHA and thousands of injured workers would prefer that employers did a bit more. A deeper dive into these OSHA standards could give many employers the information and tools they need to implement better workplace safety programs and give workers the protection they need and deserve.

Here are the Top 10 OSHA Safety Standards Cited for Violations in 2021

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations

For more than a decade, Fall Protection has topped this list as the most cited OSHA violation. OSHA created this particular standard to prevent falls, which, in the construction industry alone, account for roughly 40% of all workplace deaths.

To prevent fall injuries and deaths, it’s essential that employers supply workers with safety net systems, hole covers, guardrails, warning signs, and personal fall arrest systems. According to OSHA, these items must be in place when heights are six feet or more on construction sites and four feet or more in general industries. In addition, employees must be adequately trained on the proper use of all fall protection measures.

  1. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527 violations

OSHA’s standard for Respiratory Protection is intended to safeguard workers from respiratory hazards in the workplace. The standard covers every aspect of worker protection, including selection, fit testing, procedures, evaluation, training, use, cleaning, and maintenance of equipment. Areas most often cited by OSHA are failure to establish a Respiratory Protection program, failure to identify workplace hazards, and lack of medical evaluations or proper equipment.

  1. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026 violations

Working with ladders can be dangerous, and accidents involving them can lead to serious injuries. OSHA regulates the use, repair, and alteration of ladders on a job site. The most frequent areas of the OSHA Ladder Safety Standard that are cited include using ladders unsafely, using broken ladders, and not extending ladders far enough over an upper landing surface.

  1. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948 violations

Scaffolding is commonly used on construction sites, and its improper use can be dangerous and deadly. OSHA most commonly cites violations of this standard that include failure to use fall protection and the use of cross braces for access.

  1. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947 violations

The Hazard Communication Standard refers to the handling of chemical hazards in the workplace. The most commonly cited violations of this hazard include failure to implement a hazcom program, lack of training, and failure to maintain Safety Data Sheets.

  1. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698 violations

A Lockout/Tagout Standard applies to workers who repair, service, or maintain machinery or equipment. The areas of this standard cited most frequently for violations include training, inspections, general procedures, and an energy control program.

  1. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666 violations

OSHA requires that employers not only have fall protection in place but that employees also understand how to use it. Employers are frequently cited for a failure to train employees on these workplace safety measures.

  1. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452 violations

About 90%% of workplace eye injuries could be prevented through the use of proper eye and face protection. Violations of this OSHA standard include the failure to use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and a lack of training and workplace standards.

  1. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420 violations

This OSHA standard governs the design, use, maintenance, and fire protection of powered industrial trucks like tractors, fork trucks, and motorized hand trucks. Lack of maintenance, training, or poor signage are leading causes of violations.

  1. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113 violations

Any machine process or part that could cause injury must be safeguarded. OSHA issues citations when guards are removed, altered, or not repaired, creating a serious workplace hazard.

In addition to the possibility that violating any of these OSHA standards could result in accidents, injuries, and loss of life, these citations come with hefty fines. In the construction industry alone, OSHA issued 16,749 citations in FY2021, resulting in $58,691,406 in fines.

OSHA standards aren’t in place to make the job of construction companies or contractors harder or more costly. They exist to protect the health and safety of workers. Workplace injuries and deaths are equally tragic and cost the industry millions each year.

If your employer is subject to OSHA regulations (most are), you have rights should you become injured or sick through the course of your employment. If you’ve been injured at work and would like more information about how to protect your rights, OSHA Injury Attorney can help.

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