OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations for FY 2016

While year after year OSHA’s top ten most frequently cited standards remain relatively unchanged, they provide important insight into OSHA’s focus on certain hazards, as well as areas that employers struggle to comply with consistently. The preliminary results were released at the 2016 National Safety Congress and are comprised of all violations taken into account through Sept. 30, 2016. A definitive list will be available closer to year-end 2016. It behooves employers to look at their compliance in these areas and how carefully they are covered in new employee orientations and ongoing training.

Here are the top 10:

  1. Fall Protection Standard: 1926.501 – Construction
    Number of violations: 6,929Problem: 39.9 percent of deaths in construction are fall-related, yet this continues to top the violation list. Roofing, framing and single family contractors were the most cited employers.

    Solutions: Evaluate the work being done in light of the OSHA requirements and ensure proper fall protection is provided; continual training, enforcement and monitoring; OSHA’s fall protection campaign.

  2. Hazard Communications Standard: 1910.1200 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 5,677Problem: No written program, failure to maintain up-to-date inventory of chemicals, lack of updated data sheets, inadequate training on how to handle hazardous chemicals, failure to understand joint responsibility of staffing agency and host employer.

    Solutions: Employers struggling with large inventories and unwieldy paper-based systems can benefit from online and electronic systems; proper training and retraining; understand OSHA’s definition and expectations of “joint employers.”

  3. Scaffolding Standard: 1926.451 – Construction
    Number of violations: 3,906Problem: Framing, roofing, siding and masonry contractors were among the most commonly cited employers for this violation. Improper assembly, lack of fall protection, and access to scaffolding are common violations.

    Solutions: Adequate platform construction is critical; adequate points of access for the scaffold platforms, such as a portable ladder, hook-on ladder, direct access from another scaffold, and permissible forms of fall protection. A key is to have a “competent person.”

  4. Respiratory Protection Standard: 1910.134 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 3,585Problem: Companies were cited after employees wore respirators but were not medically evaluated, were put in situations with overexposure to contaminants or were not properly fit-tested for respiratory protection.

    Solutions: Have an industrial hygiene assessment to help determine the level of exposures and what appropriate respiratory protection is needed. Medically test employees to determine if they are capable of wearing the equipment. Fit test to ensure each individual employee’s respirator is the correct size, is comfortable, and is effective.

  5. Lockout/Tagout Standard: 1910.147 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 3,414Problem: The top three instances where companies were given citations for improper lockout/tagout were:

    • Employees are not trained in proper lockout/tagout procedures.
    • Lockout/tagout procedures were nonexistent.
    • Employers did not perform periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures.

    Solutions: Develop a written energy control program, specific to the equipment; understand the levels of training required and implement a comprehensive training program; conduct periodic inspections that must include an observation of the procedure and a review between the inspector and each authorized employee who uses the procedure.

  6. Powered Industrial Trucks Standard: 1910.178 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 2,860Problem: Operators lacking certification, failure to train on the hazards associated with the facility, and workers not maintaining safe use when operating the vehicle.

    Solutions: Understand the types of equipment that fall under this standard, including forklifts, powered pallet jacks, stand-up rider lift trucks, order pickers, and so on. Train specifically for each type of equipment, inspect equipment daily, and conduct refresher training.

  7. Ladders Standard: 1926.153 – Construction
    Number of violations: 2,639Problem: Improper use of portable ladders, using the top rung as a step, and ladders with structural defects, lack of training on proper ladder use.

    Solutions: Take defective ladders out of service and clearly label “Do Not Use”; inspect prior to use; train on the standard and the proper use of different types of ladders.

  8. Machine Guarding Standard: 1910.212 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 2,451Problem: Lack of proper machine guarding, machinery not anchored/fixed, as it should be, using inappropriate tools to operate machinery.

    Solutions: There has been more emphasis on this standard since OSHA updated its nine-year-old National Emphasis Program on amputations in June 2015 and changed its reporting requirements in January 2015. Employers should recognize this is a “catch-all” standard and compliance officers are directed to evaluate employee exposures during regular operation of machines, setup for regular operations, clearing jams, making adjustments while the machine is operating, and cleaning and maintaining machines.

  9. Electrical Wiring Standard: 1910.305 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 1,940Problem: Unsafe substitutes for permanent wiring and incorrect use of extension cords.

    Solutions: Most electrical accidents result from unsafe equipment, unsafe environments, or unsafe work practices. Do not use extension cords for permanent wiring, do not daisy chain, do not overload the power capacity, and inspect daily for fraying and damage.

  10. Electrical, General Requirements Standard: 1910.303 – General Industry
    Number of violations: 1,704Problem: Electric equipment not installed properly or used in accordance with recommended uses. Obstructed working space around electrical equipment.

    Solutions: Must install and maintain equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions; carefully label all panels; regularly inspect electrical boxes; adequate access and clearance around electrical equipment.


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