OSHA’s Top 10 Most Commonly Cited Violations

As a construction worker in New York City, you’re most likely familiar with OSHA’s safety guidelines and recommendations. After all, you’ve probably sat through 30 hours of training – or will need to before Local Law 196’s deadline on December 1.

Each year, OSHA releases its list of the top 10 most frequently violated standards based on its federal worksite inspections. Despite hours upon hours of training, employers and workers tend to ignore or forget even the most basic construction-site precautions.

Below is the full list of the top 10 most common violations from the 2019 fiscal year). According to EHS Daily Advisor, Patrick Kapust, the deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the list with a brief summary of top violations.

According to National Safety Council President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin, OSHA’s yearly top-10 list can serve as a “challenge” for both workers and employers to “recommit” to safety trainings. Use this list as an annual reminder to note how you (and/or your employer) may be putting yourselves and others at risk.

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (6,010 violations)

Ranked as the top citation for the past several years, fall violations include any failure to provide proper protection near sides and edges of roofs or unprotected elevated surfaces.

  • Hazard Communication (3,671 violations)

This violation is generally caused by employers who do not adequately train their workers or ignore proper usage of safety data sheets.

  • Scaffolding (2,813 violations)

Similar to fall violations, scaffolding citations are issued when structures lack proper decking, do not have guardrails, or are not anchored on a solid foundation.  

  • Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout/Tagout (2,606 violations)

These citations occur when employers fail to establish an energy-control procedure or do not give their employees adequate training on how to use lockout/tagout devices or equipment.

  • Respiratory Protection (2,450 violations)

Common citations for these violations include employers failing to establish a program or required testing for respiratory protection.

  • Ladders (2,345 violations)

Ladder citations are normally given when workers use ladders that have structural defects, use them for unintended purposes, or fail to include siderails that extend three feet beyond a landing surface.

  • Powered Industrial Trucks (2,093 violations)

These citations mostly occur when vehicles on worksites are damaged but not removed from service. Failing to safely operate industrial trucks or to regularly evaluate operators are also violations.

  • Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1,773 violations)  

Unlike the top-ranked violation of general requirements of fall protection, these citations have to do with proper training for fall protection. Common cases include workers not receiving general fall protection training or employers not having the certified training documented.

  • Machine Guarding (1,743 violations)

Machine guarding violations occur when workers fail to guard points of operation or disregard checking if the guards are properly attached to machinery.

  1. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1,411 violations)

Face and eye protection violations were first added to OSHA’s top-10 list in 2018, and they remain in the number 10 spot this year. Citations are given either when employers do not provide proper eye and face protection for gases, vapors, and other hazards, or when employees do not utilize the proper protection.  

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