Top 10 Safety Violations

The leading safety violations according to OSHA continue to be related to falls, hazard communication, and scaffolding. According to OSHA,  there aren’t a lot of variations in their top ten ranking from year to year.  The top five violations, for example, remained consistent from 2016 to 2018, and eight categories appeared in the list in all of the last three years. However, the number of violations found in each of those categories varied considerably.

This table shows the 12 classes of violation (and their respective OSHA standards) that made the top ten in the last three years:


Category (OSHA Standard) 2018 rank 2018 number 2017 rank 2017 number 2016 rank 2016 number Change, 2016 to 2017 Change, 2016 to 2018
Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) 1 7,270 1 6,072 1 6,906 -834 364
Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 2 4,552 2 4,176 2 5,665 -1,489 -1,113
Scaffolding (1926.451) 3 3,336 3 3,288 3 3,900 -612 -564
Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 4 3,118 4 3,097 4 3,573 -476 -455
Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 5 2,944 5 2,877 5 3,406 -529 -462
Ladders (1926.1053) 6 2,812 6 2,241 7 2,625 -384 187
Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 7 2,294 7 2,162 6 2,855 -693 -561
Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) 8 1,982 8 1,523 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Machine Guarding (1910.212) 9 1,972 9 1,933 8 2,448 -515 -476
Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) 10 1,536 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) N/A N/A 10 1,405 9 1,937 -532 N/A
Electrical – General Requirements (1910.303) N/A N/A N/A N/A 10 1,704 N/A N/A


Notice that there was an encouraging trend between 2016 and 2017, with reductions in violations right down the column and this trend continued in most top 10 categories in the 2018 report. But prudence dictates that such a consistent positive change across almost all of the regulatory classes should raise eyebrows, at least a bit. An inconsistency in enforcement over this period would explain the near-uniform improvement in safety from one year to the next, with some reversals of that trend since. If enforcement has not been consistent, the reasons may be understandable. Variations in manpower in government agencies can result in fewer inspections or a change in emphasis of regulation from year to year.

But the EHS community’s improvements in safety measures and management certainly deserve recognition, too. Across the country, EHS managers who have made the best use of technology, training, and relationships with upper management and their workforce are seeing the returns on those efforts.

It’s worth noting, however, the two closely-related categories where unfortunate reversals are evident: Fall Protection and Ladders. As you may be aware (and as we wrote about here), these have been recent areas of emphasis for OSHA with changes in the regulatory standards introduced in 2017. So, it’s logical that the administration would find some companies lacking in this area if those workplaces did not heed the mandatory changes.

Finally, a new category entered the top 10 this year: Eye and Face Protection (CFR 1926.102). Without further research, it’s fair to assume a recent emphasis on enforcement in this area, but we can also believe that workplaces have room to improve where there is a danger to this part of the body.

Whichever category may be lacking attention in any given workplace, the reason may also be attributed to an overextended EHS team.

Findlay All Hazards is the trainer that can assess your company’s specific needs in all of the top 10 categories, and more, before building and delivering a specific workplace safety training program. If your workplace has been subject to incidents, fines, or warnings, and the regs are not clear to your team, that’s a great place to start working with Findlay experts, who can assist almost immediately.

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