OSHA’s Top Ten 2017 Citations… Do You Make the List?


Santa’s got his “nice” list and his “naughty” list. OSHA has a “naughty” list as well (they’re not as big on the “nice” part, but those are government regulators for you).

Santa’s bad list might mean coal in your stocking. OSHA’s might mean some bigger consequences: a fine and a potentially expensive disruption in your business.

To help you avoid a nasty regulatory visit, here’s the top ten most cited violations from OSHA:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements

This category, which garnered just under 7,000 citations in 2017, includes items meant to protect workers from falling at work sites. Most of the violations dealt with a lack of guardrails, safety nets or other system to prevent falls when a person needs to work more than 6 feet off the ground.

  1. Hazard Communication

With just over 4,500 violations in 2017, this category covers signage related to hazardous chemicals. The biggest cause of OSHA intervention – making up about a third of the category’s violations – involved the general lack of a “written hazard communication program.”

  1. Scaffolding

Continuing the theme of the top violation-getter (fall protection), these codes relate to rules surrounding scaffolding, and the protections workers are supposed to have when using them. The category received about 3,700 violations in 2017.

  1. Respiratory Protection

While this category generated nearly 3,400 violations in 2017, most of the citations related to paperwork and other ephemera surrounding the use of respirators (and, thankfully, didn’t stem from employers not providing respirators when needed). The top rule violation? Not providing a medical evaluation before fitting an employee with a respirator.

  1. Lockout/Tagout

Lockout/Tagout procedures make sure that people stay safe while performing maintenance on machines. Violations of these rules accounted for about 3,100 violations in 2017. Top reasons for citations included insufficient procedures and failure to conduct periodic inspections.

  1. Ladders

In case you thought we were done with people working in high places, the #6 cited violation involves the use of ladders. This category generated nearly 2,600 OSHA actions in 2017. Specific citations involved such things as using ladders for things that they weren’t designed to do and stepping on the top step.

  1. Powered Industrial Trucks

This category, which covers forklifts and lift trucks, generates most of its citations from deficient training and oversight. Of the approximately 2,300 violations issued by OSHA, about 20% came from employers letting people who weren’t “competent” drive the vehicles. Another approximately 10% came from lack of timely performance reviews.

  1. Machine Guarding

This category deals with protections surrounding machines, including things like flying chips and sparks. It generated about 2,100 violations in 2017, with just over 60% coming from companies not providing enough safety guards around dangerous items.

  1. Fall Protection – Training Requirements

A subset of the biggest overall theme of OSHA’s list of violations. In this case, the citations handed out – just over 1,700 in 2017 – primarily came from companies failing to provide an adequate training program for workers who might find themselves at risk of a fall.

  1. Electrical – Wiring Methods

Rounding out the top ten, this category includes a host of potential wiring violations. No single type of citation dominates the approximately 1,500 OSHA interventions that this group generated in 2017. Instead, it includes a variety of infractions, from improper use of flexible cords to not effectively closing unused openings in fittings.

Ensuring safety is a top concern for any company. Having the right employees makes this process easier. Contact DHR today to find out what they can do to upgrade the safety profile of your workforce.

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