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Top 10 OSHA Violations for FY 2018

By Roger Marks

Sponsored by Lion Technology, Inc.

lion image.jpgAt the National Safety Council expo in Houston on October 23, OSHA Deputy Director of Enforcement Programs Patrick Kapust announced the ten most commonly cited OSHA safety standards for workplaces in fiscal year 2018, which ended September 30, 2018.

As OSHA makes clear, the list of the most commonly cited violations changes little from year to year. Novel or not, OSHA’s annual Top 10 violations list is a useful tool that safety professionals can use to identify hazards at their own facilities. The OSHA top 10 list doesn’t cover every important workplace hazard, but it does provide an overview of the most common and costly violations for American employers.

10. New! Eye and Face Protection—Construction (29 CFR 1926.95)

Total violations cited: 1,536

For the first time, OSHA’s personal protective and lifesaving equipment standard for the construction industry, found at 29 CFR 1926.95, made the top 10 list. The regulations require employers to provide and maintain adequate personal protective equipment for workers. §1926.95 also details when an employer must pay for PPE and when an employee may pay for it him- or herself.

The PPE and lifesaving equipment standard replaces the electrical wiring standard (29 CFR 1910.305) as #10 on this year’s list. Given the historical data, it seems likely that electrical safety violations just missed the top 10 this time around.

9. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212)

Total violations cited: 1,972 

OSHA requires employers to identify workplace machinery that can cause injury to an employee. Machine injuries can occur at the point of operation, from rotating or moving parts, or from flying chips or sparks. 

While the number of OSHA machine guarding citations went up slightly this year compared to preliminary data from 2017 (from 1,933 in 2017 to 1,972 this year), this OSHA standard fell one spot to number 9 on this year’s list.

8. Fall Protection—Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)

Total violations cited: 1,982

Fall protection training requirements for the construction industry rose one spot to number 8 on the list after appearing on the top 10 for the first time last year. Construction industry employers are required to provide training for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards and to verify that the training was complete with a written certification record.

The total number of citations for training violations also rose, from 1,523 in 2017 to nearly 2,000 in 2018. Updates to OSHA’s general industry worker fall protection or walking-working surfaces standard took effect in early 2017 and included new training requirements to guide workers on the nature of fall hazards, procedures to minimize those hazards, and the correct use of fall protection systems.

Training was also required on the use, care, and disposal of personal protective equipment. Employers were required to provide this training before May 17, 2017 (29 CFR 1910.30(a)(1)).

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)

Total violations cited: 2,294

From forklift races and wheelies to doing doughnuts on the production floor, we’ve heard a lot of scary forklift operation stories that certainly violate OSHA safety standards.

That said, failure to properly train, certify, and re-certify forklift drivers was the most common reason employers were cited under OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.178 standard for powered industrial trucks.

Prepare forklift operators to use their vehicles safely and efficiently with the Lion Technology Forklift Safety Online Course. Enroll your team today and get a performance test checklist you can use to road-test forklift operators. 

6. Ladders—Construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)

Total violations cited: 2,812

Humans have been using ladders for millennia, but we still use them improperly sometimes.

Common violations of OSHA’s ladder safety standard include using broken or improperly maintained ladders, using ladders for purposes other than climbing, and using the top step of the ladder as a step (prohibited by §1926.1053(b)(13)).

Do you know OSHA’s rules for different types of ladders in your workplace? These rules are not always intuitive. The Ladder Safety Online Course can help you keep your site in compliance.

5. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147)

Total violations cited: 2,944

Lockout/tagout is crucial in facilities where machine maintenance and servicing occur. The unexpected release of hazardous energy—“Control of Hazardous Energy” is the 29 CFR 1910.147 standard’s proper title—can result in severe injuries, amputations, crushing, and death.

Failure to train personnel on proper lockout/tagout procedures was a frequent violation found by OSHA inspectors in FY 2018.

4. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134)

Total violations cited: 3,118

Using a respirator properly in the workplace takes more than strapping one to your face. Employers must complete medical evaluations to protect the employee, perform fit-testing to ensure respirators function properly, and train employees on proper use and maintenance.

For details on respirator medical evaluations, read “Before You Fit Test: Medical Clearance for Respirator Use.” 

Need training for employees who wear and maintain respirators? The Lion Technology Respiratory Protection Online Course trains employees to properly select, fit, and use respirators in the workplace. 

3. Scaffolds General Requirements—Construction (29 CFR 1926.451)

Total violations cited: 3,336

OSHA lays out specific requirements for scaffolds in the construction industry at 29 CFR 1926.451. The rules include specific weight limitations, construction requirements, and rules for planking and decking scaffold platforms correctly.

2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200)

Total violations cited: 4,552

OSHA plans to revise its hazcom standard again in 2019 to bring it up to date with the latest edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA updated the hazcom standard at 29 CFR 1910.1200 to harmonize U.S. rules with the GHS for the first time in 2012.

OSHA’s hazcom standard requires all employers to provide workers with information about hazardous chemicals in the workplace. Chemical hazards—from toxic gases to everyday cleaning products—are communicated using written hazcom programs, hazard labels/warnings, safety data sheets (SDS), and hazcom training.

Need to train workers on the chemicals in your workplace? Lion Technology’s Hazard Communication Online Course prepares workers to understand and use chemical labels in your workplace to protect themselves and their coworkers. 

Need to build your workplace hazcom program from scratch? The Managing Hazard Communication Online Course is for you. 

1. Fall Protection—Construction (29 CFR 1926.501)

Total violations cited: 7,270

Topping the list again this year with more than 7,000 violations cited is OSHA’s fall protection standard for construction. Failure to provide proper PPE and fall arrest systems for workers in high places were common violations of this standard in 2018.

The total number of violations in this category rose by more than 1,000 from last year, according to OSHA’s preliminary data.


Roger Marks is a content writer and regulatory researcher for Lion Technology Inc., which provides workplace safety training. From respirators and PPE to hazard communication and lithium batteries, find safety training you need to protect your staff and maintain compliance with OSHA safety standards in 29 CFR at Lion.com/OSHA.

Courses are interactive and self-paced, and employees can stop-and-start as needed to fit training into their day-to-day work schedules.

Plus, if you have HAZWOPER-certified hazmat techs, emergency responders, or clean-up personnel at your site, Lion offers OSHA HAZWOPER courses for many levels of personnel who need HAZWOPER training at Lion.com/HAZWOPER.


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