OSHA'S Top 10 Cited Violations: New Year, Same Problems

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Year to year, OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations rarely vary. While the same issues continue to top the list, the agency persists with providing in-depth statistics so that companies can take the list and audit their own workplaces.  According to Safety and Health Magazine, Fall Protection (1926.501) has placed first consecutively for the past six years. Following closely are Hazard Communication (1910.1200) and Scaffolding (1926.451) the same top three issues reported in 2015. OSHA issued more than 35,000 citations in the 2016 fiscal year, which ended September 30th.

Most Frequently Cited Violations of 2016

Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501)

Total Violations: 6,906
Fall Protection is implemented to protect employees working on surfaces with an unprotected edge above 6 feet.

Hazard Communication (1910.1200)

Total Violations: 5,665
Hazard Communication refers to hazardous chemicals produced and imported into the workplace.

Scaffolding (1926.451)

Total Violations: 3,900
This standard covers the basic safety requirements for scaffolding, emphasizing a qualified employee and constructed design. Employers must protect workers from falls and falling objects while scaffolding at 10 feet or higher.

Respiratory Protection (1910.134)

Total Violations: 3,573
Employers must establish and maintain a respiratory program. Requirements include program administration, worksite-specific procedures, respiratory selection, employee training, fit testing, medical evaluation, respirator use/cleaning and repair.

Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)

Total Violations: 3,406
This standard summarizes performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy while servicing and maintaining machines or equipment.

Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)

Total Violations: 2,855
Powered industrial trucks, forklifts and motorized hand trucks must be safely designed and maintained. This also covers operator training requirements.

Ladders (1910.212)

Total Violations: 2,625
This covers general safety requirements for all ladders.

Machine Guarding (1926.501)

Total Violations: 2,448
Implemented to protect employees and operators from hazards including point of operation, in going nip points, rotating parts and flying chips/sparks.

Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305)

Total Violations: 1,937
This standard covers the grounding of electrical equipment, wiring and insulation – including temporary wiring and splicing, such as flexible cords.

Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303)

Total Violations: 1,704
Covering general safety requirements for designing electrical systems.


OSHA classifies citations in two separate categories of violations. A serious violation is defined as “one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result” and implies that the employer should have been aware of said hazard. A willful violation is “committed with an intentional disregard or plain indifference to the requirements of OSHA.”

What do these violations have in common (aside from risking safety and your employment status?) All of these issues could have been avoided with Mobile Inspection. With data capture, custom checklist creation and the ability to score locations, employees can report in real time and quickly address the most important issues from the palm of their hands. Ensure that your workplace is inspection-ready and the environment is secure for all workers involved. Safety isn’t expensive, but it is priceless!

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