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The Top OSHA Violations and How to Avoid Them

Top OSHA Violations

Each spring, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration compiles a list of the most common OSHA violations of the previous year. The exact order of the top 10 and the number of citations issued for each change from year to year. But the message remains clear: There's always room to improve when it comes to workplace safety.

This article will help you keep an eye out for common violations in your workplace and offer compliance solutions that will make your jobsite a safer place.

What the List Means

The annual top 10 OSHA violations list only tells us one part of the story. The statistics only include the most frequently cited standards and the number of times a workplace was cited for violating them. What we don't see is even more telling.

The list doesn't include the number of worker injuries or fatalities caused by those failures. Each hazard might also represent lost productivity or property damage.

Complying with standards prevents dangerous, expensive accidents. It also saves time and money that would otherwise be spent on citations and remediation.

Frequently Cited Standards

While the top 10 most-cited standards and their list rankings can change every year, certain standards tend to reappear year after year. Some of the most frequently cited standards on the list include:

  • Fall Protection, Construction (1926.501)
  • Hazard Communication, General Industry (1910.1200)
  • Ladders, Construction (1926.1053)
  • Respiratory Protection, General Industry (1910.134)
  • Scaffolding, Construction (1926.451)
  • Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout), General Industry (1910.147)
  • Powered Industrial Trucks, General Industry (1910.178)
  • Fall Protection Training, Construction (1926.503)
  • Eye and Face Protection, Construction (1926.102)
  • Machinery and Machine Guarding, General Industry (1910.212)
  • Electrical Wiring Methods, General Industry (1910.305)
  • Electrical General Requirements, General Industry (1910.303)

Each citation is attached to a federal safety standard, as found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. OSHA creates, updates and maintains thousands of standards across industries like construction, general industry, maritime, agriculture and more.

Every rule is a binding federal regulation employers must obey. Since each workplace is different, the standards that apply to one job might not be relevant at a different site. It is up to each employer to identify and comply with applicable regulations. Failure to uphold standards or a violation of the rules may result in a citation.

Citations and Inspections

The administration doesn't just make the rules. It also has the power to enforce them. Serious safety complaints may result in a phone investigation or an on-site inspection. If inspectors identify standard violations during the inspection, they will cite the employer.

Citations require employers to remedy the issue and may include a monetary penalty. The administration categorizes the results, including distinctions for wilful, repeated, negligent and other categories.

For more information on frequent workplace safety issues reported to OSHA, visit the administration's data page. There, you can find specific statistics about citations, fatalities, injuries and even chemical exposure health data.

Avoiding Hazards

Regardless of the exact statistics for the year, the most common violations share a few major characteristics. The top 10 is always filled with hazards you might expect to see on almost any jobsite.

Objects like ladders and powered industrial trucks are so common that many employers might simply neglect the rules. After all, an enormous metal-bending machine seems more threatening than a common forklift. But failures to use machine guarding or properly lockout/tagout industrial equipment often make the list, too.

Proper training is the easiest way to avoid common violations. And the easiest way to educate employees is through online safety training.

Online Safety Training

When it comes to reducing workplace safety hazards, knowing is half the battle. Educated employees can help spot, avoid and report violations at work. Also, employees who receive health and safety training are less likely to suffer workplace injuries.

Fortunately, online safety compliance training is available. High-quality internet-based education programs make it easy to train workers for a variety of employment environments. Training courses focus on two main approaches to workplace safety — prevention and protection.


Preventive training focuses on avoiding hazards entirely. By teaching employees about common hazards and what to do in dangerous situations, employers can protect workers and minimize safety complaints.

Prevention is the focus of the OSHA Outreach Training Program. Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA helps workers prepare for a variety of roles in construction and general industry.

The administration offers online training through several OSHA-authorized providers. Students who complete either a 10-hour or a 30-hour training program through an authorized provider will receive an official OSHA card from the Department of Labor.

These cards demonstrate a worker's understanding of important safety principles, including everything from hazard communication and Focus Four dangers to machine guarding and hand tools. While a DOL card will never expire, an employer, state or local jurisdiction may require employees to repeat their training.


It isn't always possible to avoid hazards. Sometimes, proper protection is the best defense against danger.

Failure to enforce the proper use of protective equipment can be deadly. Some of the most frequently cited standards each year relate to personal protective equipment (PPE), including respiratory protection, scaffolding and face shields.

With just a few hours of online instruction, employees can learn how and when to use PPE, fall protection general requirements, safety procedures for bloodborne pathogens and more. These courses teach crucial hazard protection techniques that protect workers from serious injuries and even death.

Training with Us

We provide OSHA Outreach courses in partnership with the University of South Florida, an OSHA-authorized online training provider. You can learn with us to complete your 10-hour and 30-hour program for construction or general industry. We also offer a full set of HAZWOPER courses for anyone who works with hazardous waste.

In addition to our Outreach Training courses, we offer online safety compliance training on a variety of topics. Prepare to work with and around excavators, cranes and scissor lifts. Protect yourself on scaffolds and ladders. No matter where you work, we can help you avoid common violations and hazards.

Enjoy 24/7 access to lesson materials from any internet-connected device. Start and stop your studies whenever you want. Train at your pace. Start preparing for a safer work environment today!

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