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  • Writer's pictureNathan Hammer

Understanding OSHA's Top 10 Violations from 2023

Every year, thousands of workplace accidents occur, causing injuries, illnesses, and even fatalities. There were 5,486 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2022, a 5.7-percent increase from 5,190 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To prevent these tragedies and protect worker well-being, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces regulations addressing various workplace hazards.

Each year, OSHA unveils the "Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards," compiled from nationwide inspections, highlighting areas where employers often fall short in securing worker safety. This list serves as a crucial reminder of the most common workplace dangers and emphasizes employers' responsibility to create a safe work environment.

For the thirteenth year in a row, Fall Protection - General Requirements tops the list, with over 7,000 violations recorded in 2023. This sobering statistic underscores the constant threat falls pose to workers.

Here are the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Standards along with three critical tips for employers to help address each violation:

1. Fall Protection - General Requirements (7,271 violations) - 1926.501

Falls are consistently the leading cause of workplace injuries and fatalities. This standard emphasizes the crucial role of implementing fall protection systems like guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems wherever there's a risk of falling.

  • Tip 1: Implement fall protection systems like guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems wherever workers face a fall hazard.

  • Tip 2: Provide proper fall protection training to all employees working at heights, ensuring they understand safe work practices and utilize equipment correctly.

  • Tip 3: Regularly inspect fall protection equipment for wear and tear, replacing any damaged or malfunctioning gear immediately.

2. Hazard Communication (3,213 violations) - 1910.1200

Many workplaces utilize hazardous chemicals, posing a significant health risk to workers if not handled properly. This standard highlights the necessity of a comprehensive Hazard Communication Program, including proper labeling, readily available Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), and employee training on safe handling procedures.

  • Tip 1: Develop and maintain a comprehensive Hazard Communication Program, including a written hazard communication plan and readily accessible Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for all hazardous chemicals.

  • Tip 2: Train employees on identifying hazards, understanding SDS information, and following safe handling procedures for hazardous materials.

  • Tip 3: Clearly label containers with hazard warnings and information about the contents.

3. Ladders (2,978 violations) - 1926.1053

Seemingly simple tools like ladders can lead to serious injuries if not used correctly. This standard focuses on selecting the appropriate ladder type and size, conducting pre-use inspections for damage, and ensuring workers follow safe ladder use practices to prevent falls and other hazards.

  • Tip 1: Select the appropriate ladder type and size for the specific task, ensuring it can support the weight and reach required.

  • Tip 2: Inspect ladders before each use for damage, cracks, or loose components, and never use a faulty ladder.

  • Tip 3: Train workers on safe ladder use practices, including proper placement, maintaining three points of contact, and avoiding overloading the ladder.

4. Scaffolding (2,859 violations) - 1926.451

Scaffolding is essential for construction and maintenance work but can be dangerous if not erected, used, and dismantled properly. This standard emphasizes the importance of qualified personnel overseeing scaffolding work, proper fall protection for workers, and regular inspections to ensure its safety and integrity.

  • Tip 1: Erect, use, and dismantle scaffolding only under the supervision of a competent person trained in scaffolding safety.

  • Tip 2: Provide proper fall protection for all workers on scaffolds, including guardrails, personal fall arrest systems, or safety nets.

  • Tip 3: Inspect scaffolding components regularly for damage and ensure proper weight capacity is not exceeded.

5. Powered Industrial Trucks (2,561 violations) - 1910.178

Forklifts and other powered industrial trucks are essential equipment in many industries, but their improper use can cause severe accidents. This standard highlights the need for trained operators, regular maintenance of these vehicles, and clearly designated traffic lanes to separate them from pedestrians.

  • Tip 1: Train all operators of powered industrial trucks (forklifts, etc.) on safe operation practices, licensing requirements, and hazard awareness.

  • Tip 2: Conduct regular inspections and maintenance of powered industrial trucks to ensure they are in safe working condition.

  • Tip 3: Clearly define designated traffic lanes and pedestrian walkways to separate pedestrians from moving vehicles.

6. Lockout/Tagout (2,554 violations) - 1910.147

Servicing and maintaining equipment often involves working with hazardous energy sources like electricity or machinery. This standard underscores the importance of a robust LOTO program to isolate and control this energy during such activities, preventing accidental energization and serious injuries.

  • Tip 1: Develop and implement a written Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) program outlining procedures for isolating and controlling hazardous energy during servicing or maintenance of equipment.

  • Tip 2: Train all employees involved in servicing or maintenance activities on LOTO procedures, ensuring they understand proper lockout/tagout techniques and their importance.

  • Tip 3: Regularly audit and inspect the LOTO program to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with OSHA regulations.

7. Respiratory Protection (2,481 violations) - 1910.134

Exposure to airborne hazards like dust, fumes, or vapors can cause respiratory illnesses. This standard emphasizes the need for workplace assessments to identify such hazards and, if necessary, providing appropriate respiratory protection equipment (RPE) along with proper fit testing and training for employees who need to use it.

  • Tip 1: Conduct workplace assessments to identify potential respiratory hazards and determine the need for respiratory protection.

  • Tip 2: Select the appropriate respiratory protection equipment (RPE) for the specific hazard and ensure proper fit testing for all employees required to wear RPE.

  • Tip 3: Implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program, including training on proper use, maintenance, and inspection of RPE.

8. Fall Protection - Training Requirements (2,112 violations) - 1926.503

Even with fall protection systems in place, proper training is critical to ensure their safe and effective use. This standard focuses on providing comprehensive fall protection training to all at-risk employees, covering hazard identification, safe work practices, and proper use of fall protection equipment.

  • Tip 1: Provide comprehensive fall protection training to all employees at risk of falls, covering hazard identification, safe work practices, and proper use of fall protection equipment.

  • Tip 2: Retrain employees periodically on fall protection, especially after any changes in work practices or equipment, or following near misses or incidents.

  • Tip 3: Document all fall protection training sessions, maintaining records as proof of compliance with OSHA regulations.

9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (2,074 violations) - 1926.102

Many workplaces present risks of eye and face injuries from flying objects, splashes, or dust. This standard emphasizes the importance of conducting hazard assessments, providing appropriate eye and face protection (EFP) to exposed employees, and training them on its selection, fitting, maintenance, and the importance of consistent use.

  • Tip 1: Conduct hazard assessments to identify potential eye and face hazards, such as flying objects, splashes, or dust, and select appropriate eye and face protection (EFP) accordingly.

  • Tip 2: Provide appropriate EFP for all employees exposed to eye and face hazards, ensuring proper fit and comfort to encourage consistent use.

  • Tip 3: Train employees on the importance of EFP, proper selection, fitting, and maintenance procedures.

10. Machine Guarding (1,644 violations) - 1910.212

Unguarded machinery poses a significant risk of serious injuries to workers who come into contact with moving parts. This standard highlights the need for proper guarding of all dangerous machinery parts according to OSHA standards, regular inspections to ensure their functionality, and training employees on machine safety and the importance of never bypassing or removing machine guards.

  • Tip 1: Ensure all dangerous parts of machinery are properly guarded according to OSHA standards to prevent worker contact with moving parts.

  • Tip 2: Inspect machine guards regularly for damage or malfunction, promptly repairing or replacing any faulty guards.

  • Tip 3: Train employees on identifying potential machine hazards, understanding guarding requirements, and the importance of never bypassing or removing machine guards.

While these frequently cited OSHA standards may seem commonplace, they represent a persistent and preventable threat to worker safety. By understanding these violations and implementing the recommended preventative measures, employers can create a safer work environment for their employees. Remember, prioritizing safety is not just a legal obligation, but a moral imperative. Let's work together to ensure every worker returns home safely at the end of the day.


Here at Premier Safety Resources, we understand the complexities of adhering to OSHA regulations and are committed to helping organizations of all sizes achieve and maintain a safe work environment. 

Our team of experienced professionals can assist you in:

  • Developing and implementing comprehensive safety programs

  • Conducting workplace hazard assessments

  • Providing training on OSHA standards and safe work practices

  • Selecting and implementing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Maintaining compliance with OSHA regulations

Don't wait for an accident to happen. Contact Premier Safety Resources today and let us help you create a culture of safety in your workplace.

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