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OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Violations of 2020

Toby Graham /
Text reading "Top 10"

Hot off the press… the new OSHA Top 10 list is here! Every year OSHA compiles a list of the ten most-cited standard violations from the previous fiscal year.  OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take necessary steps to find and fix recognized hazards before OSHA shows up. The 2020 fiscal year statistics, which ended Sept. 30th, have just been released. They show some slight changes from the 2019 list.

Not surprisingly, the list’s actual violations stayed the same as the previous year, though some standards moved up or down. Fall Protection remained in the number one slot while ladders rose one spot to number five. Respiratory Protection also moved up to third from fifth, while Lockout/Tagout dropped two places, from fourth to sixth.

Here’s the Complete List Along with the Corresponding Standard Number:

Let’s Take a Look at the Top 3

 #1. Fall Protection

It is not unexpected that fall protection stayed at number one, with 5,424 total violations. Fall protection, or the lack of it, continues to be a problem at many job sites. It has been the most cited regulation for ten straight years. In 2019, there were 800 fatal falls in the US, and they continue to be the leading cause of death in the construction industry, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Many employers are simply not providing workers with protection when it comes to falls, whether from a rooftop, a scaffold, or a ladder. Employers are also doing a poor job of training workers when it comes to preventing falls. Fall prevention training was number eight on OSHA’s list.

Learn how to keep your workers safe and comply with OSHA’s fall protection and training standards.

#2. Hazard Communication

Hazard Communication or “HazCom” is again near the top of the list. The regulation requires employers who use hazardous chemicals to develop an effective written HazCom program, provide training to workers and make available copies of Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each chemical in the workplace.  It also requires labeling on each chemical container. If you have a lot of chemicals in your workplace, it’s essential to stay on top of this regulation by keeping an ongoing list of chemicals and keeping that SDS inventory up to date.

Read: OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard: What it is and How to Protect Your Company

#3. Respiratory Protection

OSHA’s respiratory protection standard sets expectations for control measures, respirator use, cleaning and repair, written programs, and medical evaluations for workers who wear respirators. Regulators typically cite this standard for lack of medical evaluations, implementation of a written respiratory protection program, and fit testing.

Learn more about what’s required and how to ensure safe respirator use.

4. Scaffolding (1926.451)

5. Ladders (1926.1053)

6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)

8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503)

9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye &Face Protection (1926.102)

10. Machine Guarding (1910.212)

How to Avoid the Top 10 and Other OSHA Citations

Do any of the regulations on the list apply to your workplace? If so, you should thoroughly review the standards and ensure you are complying with all employer requirements. Be prepared in case OSHA knocks on your door.

There are several steps your company can take to both avoid OSHA fines and prevent worker injuries, illnesses and deaths. Developing and enforcing a comprehensive safety program is your key to success.

Your safety program should include:

  • Written Safety Programs  
    Develop and maintain written safety programs covering the hazards to which employees may be exposed. OSHA requires written safety programs and looks to see that they’re reviewed and updated annually. Make sure they are available to all employees.
  • In-depth Safety Training 
    Both new hire and annual safety training should cover all the risks workers are exposed to on the job site. Staff should be aware of the risks associated with their jobs, especially when working at heights, with hazardous chemicals, or with dangerous machinery.
  • Periodic Jobsite Inspections  
    Conduct inspections to identify hazardous conditions at the worksite. Most job sites require frequent monitoring and observations to stay on top of safety issues.  Inspections identify hazards and provide opportunities to fix problems before injuries and accidents can occur.
  • Safe Tools and Equipment  
    Provide safe tools and equipment and ensure workers inspect them regularly. Many workers rely on their tools and equipment to get their work done safely. Unsafe tools and equipment can mean a higher risk of serious accidents, including losing an eye or a limb. They can also lead to OSHA citations.
  • Personal Protective Equipment  
    Provide appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE, to workers. Companies must pay for and ensure that workers have the necessary PPE, such as fall arrest systems, hard hats, respirators, and hearing protection, to do their jobs safely.

We’ve written a ton of helpful articles on how to minimize the OSHA top 10 at your facility. Check them out here >>

You Don’t Have to Manage Your OSHA Requirements Alone

Have questions? Looking for more detailed OSHA compliance guidance?

KPA is here to help.

To truly protect your workforce and bottom line, you’ll need in-depth information—and not just about OSHA’s top 10, but every potential hazard that exists in your organization. You’ll also need to conduct a thorough evaluation of your facilities to identify current gaps and risk areas.

KPA’s unique combination of software, training, and consulting services can provide the coverage your people and your organization need.

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