Are OSHA violations still a major concern in the United States?
Unfortunately, yes. While it’s true that the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has played a significant role in improving employee safety standards, many workplaces are still deemed unsafe.
For example, in 2021, OSHA health and safety inspectors carried out 24,333 federal inspections and discovered that 4,764 workers had died on the job in the previous year. The industries that accounted for nearly half of the fatal occupational injuries were:
- Material-moving jobs
- Extraction jobs
We’ve written this post to assist both employers and employees identify and fix safety violations. We’ll explore the 10 most commonly violated OSHA standards as reported by OSHA inspectors and discuss ways you, as an employer, can address these concerns.
1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501)
According to the Bureau of Labor’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, there were 850 fatal falls recorded in the U.S. in 2021, up 5.6% from 2020. Falls, slips, and trips in construction and extraction occupations accounted for 370 of these 2021 fatalities.
You can reduce the likelihood of these incidents by adhering to the OSHA Fall Protection standard. This is a standard with two main requirements for employers:
- Provision of fall protection systems such as guardrails, safety nets, personal fall arrest systems
- Provision of fall protection training to employees working at elevated heights greater than six feet
You can fulfill the first requirement by installing appropriate fall protection equipment, and the second by enrolling workers in regional OSHA Training Institute Education Centers.
Additional information to help managers prevent slips and trips in the workplace can also be found on our website under accident prevention.
2. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134)
The OSHA Respiratory Protection standard protects workers from hazardous airborne contaminants. Employers are mandated to do two things:
- Establish and maintain a respiratory protection program
- Provide workers with adequate respiratory protection
OSHA inspectors note that the biggest violations of this standard involve non-compliance especially as it regards:
- Medical evaluations
- Securing respiratory protection PPE
- Fit testing
- Developing a comprehensive respiratory protection program
- Identifying respiratory workplace hazards
Need a bit of assistance? We’ve got a wide-range of resources to help with respiratory protection available online.
3. Ladders (29 CFR 1910.1053)
Many industries use ladders, from firefighting to construction. The OSHA Ladder Standard demands that employers make efforts to ensure that:
- Workers use ladders safely
- Ladders are kept in good working condition
- Faulty, old, and worn-out ladders are replaced
Failure to observe these requirements can lead to falls and various workplace injuries.
Violations of this ladder standard typically present themselves as:
- Employees failing to use ladders in a manner deemed safe
- Employees using broken or defective ladders
- Employees failing to correctly extend ladders to reach landing surfaces
Invest in our high-quality training courses, booklets, and posters and easily bring your teams up-to-date with the latest in ladder safety.
4. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200)
The OSHA Hazard Communication standard deals with the necessity of transmitting information to employees about the chemicals they’re working with.
Employers are required to provide workers with knowledge of the chemicals they use, their hazardous nature, the correct way of handling them, and the potential detrimental health effects.
Most employers breach this standard by failing to:
- Implement a Hazards and Communication (HazCom) program
- Train staff on hazardous substances
- Create and maintain Safety Data Sheets
Fortunately, training staff on HazCom best practices just got easier thanks to our Hazard Communication resources.
5. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451)
Masons, framers, and roofing experts are just some of the people most at risk if the OSHA Scaffolding standard isn’t maintained. That’s because they tend to work with scaffolding the most.
Scaffolding, a common work platform seen across many construction sites, should be designed by a professional, erected as directed, and tested for safety prior to use.
Scaffolding is meant to provide a stable platform for workers to stand upon as they do their job, while also protecting them from falling over.
OSHA violations of this standard can be seen in the:
- Failure of employers to provide guardrail systems
- Failure to use cross-braces for stability
- Failure to test planking/decking before use
Demonstrate your commitment to creating a safe and secure workplace with these scaffolding safety resources.
6. Fall Protection Training (29 CFR 1926.503)
The OSHA Fall Protection Training standard goes hand-in-hand with the Fall Protection standard, complementing it.
This training standard is engineered to teach workers about workplace dangers that could lead to falls and the manifold means of preventing them.
Employers are obligated, under this standard, to provide employees with fall protection training so workers know how to correctly use the fall protection systems.
With our Fall Protection Training resources, imparting knowledge on how to stay safe and prevent falls is now a seamless affair.
7. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147)
The goal of the OSHA Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) standard is the prevention of workplace accidents triggered by the unintentional startup of machinery.
In order to comply with this standard, employers must do the following two things:
- Develop and implement a lockout/tagout program
- Teach employees the correct techniques to control hazardous energy
This standard is most often violated when employees:
- Fail to train workers in general LOTO procedures
- Fail to establish energy control programs
- Fail to carry out periodic workplace machinery inspections
Regular LOTO training goes a long way in mitigating machinery-related accidents. Ensure your workers receive quality Lockout/Tagout safety training thanks to our comprehensive resources.
8. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)
Workplaces can become dangerous because of sparks, flying debris, and various hazardous materials. These often cause eye injuries, which is why the OSHA Eye and Face Protection standard was created.
It mandates employers to:
- Furnish workers with necessary eye and face protection
- Train employees how to correctly wear and use this PPE
For more information on how to protect employee’s eyes and faces on the job site visit our National Safety Compliance website eye safety page.
9. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)
Industrial trucks are used across different industries and workplaces in the U.S. However, their use must be regulated and accompanied by training on safe workplace utility.
The OSHA Powered Industrial Trucks standard provides guidance on what safety precautions employers are meant to put in place to safeguard their employees. One requirement is to train workers on the proper operation of powered industrial trucks.
Prevent driving accidents and remind workers of safe driving practices with our driving safety posters, games, and video kits.
10. Machinery and Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212)
With workplaces like manufacturing plants and industries that are powered by machinery, it was pivotal to develop a standard that related specifically to machinery. That’s where we get the OSHA Machinery and Machine Guarding standard.
This standard is designed to teach workers how to prevent injuries from moving parts while working.
Violations of this standard typically revolve around employers failing to train their employees about how to safely operate machinery and avoid being injured by moving machine parts.
Fostering a safe workplace begins with training and is preserved with educational posters like our Machine Safeguarding resources.
The Bottom Line
Employers and employees have an important role to play in preventing and reducing OSHA violations. Improving the workplace and making it safer and more secure is a team affair. A careful study of these standards and examination of your own current practices doesn’t just protect your workers and save lives, but it can lead to a more functional, effective, and profitable workplace altogether.