Top 12 OSHA Violations You Should Know

In the industrial sector, you have to be exacting when it comes to safety standards. Aside from the risk of serious injury, it can cost your company thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. Here’s a list of the top 12 most commonly cited violations on the job. Adhering to safety standards means you’ll risk less injury and save your company from the most common safety citations.

1 – 1926.501 (Fall Protection)
Falls are the leading cause of fatalities in the construction sector. Adhering to rigorous standards to protect workers can save lives and companies. Whether residential or commercial construction,  fall protection requires that safety systems be installed on the job site. The risk for work that takes place 6 feet from the next level has to be properly mitigated with installations that prevent falls and proper supervision of employees.

2 – 1910.1200 (Hazard Communication)
A properly trained worker is a safer worker. Labeling, communication, and knowledge of hazardous materials is an absolute must in the workplace. Workplace chemicals can cause irritation, damage, and even death in the worst cases. Every employee must be properly trained and knowledgeable about every chemical or material they come in contact with in order to adhere to safety standards.

3 – 1925.451 (Scaffolding)
Scaffolding is one of the most obvious and common safety violations in the industry. If there are large spaces in between planks and large, open edges between railings, it’s a red flag. In order for scaffolding to follow safety standards, it must be properly designed, built, and fully planked from rail to rail. Fall protection for scaffolding begins at 10 feet above a lower level.

4 – 1910.134 (Respiratory Protection)
In order to keep workers safe in environments with difficult breathing conditions, respirators are a necessity. Properly implemented protection programs keep workers safe in hazardous conditions where dust and particles may otherwise enter their respiratory system. Fit-testing and medical examinations are an important part of the process that ensures employees can properly use the respirator. Choosing quality respirators that adhere to safety standards is a must.

5 – 1910.305 (Electrical – Wiring Methods)
Just as in Lockout/Tagout safety procedures, utmost care must be taken when electrical wiring is involved. Proper grounding can prevent deadly workplace shocks, and insulation and proper installation is a necessity. This violation also takes into account the manner in which conductors have been routed, and the requirements for wire covers/canopies.

6 – 1910.178 (Powered Industrial Trucks)
Industrial machinery is an inherent danger on the job, and improper handling is not an option. Employees must be re-trained and evaluated on a standard basis, trucks (and machinery like forklifts) must be repaired before safe operation is guaranteed, and each newly acquired machine must be examined before use.

7 – 1926.1053 (Ladders)
Ladders are sometimes improperly used in the workplace, and this violation stands as a crucial yet common one that should be avoided. Ladders should only be used as intended. Their siderails should extend three feet off the landing surface to ensure proper support. The top step of a stepladder should never be used as a step, and defective ladders must be taken out of service until repaired. Often overlooked, employees who are carrying heavy objects or objects that may cause a loss of balance are prohibited from climbing any workplace ladder.

8 – 1910.147 (Lockout/Tagout)
Machinery can be dangerous when improperly handled, but an often overlooked danger is the energy used to power it. Energy control is imperative in keeping employees safe from high voltages and other dangers, and it requires training, proper communication, and lockout/tagout devices to ensure the highest risk mitigation.

9 – 1910.303 (Electrical – General Requirements)
Labeled equipment must be installed according to the instructions included. Working space around electrical equipment must be sufficient enough for employees to safely maintain and operate it. Live parts must be properly blocked and/or guarded and all equipment must be free of any possible serious hazards.

10 – 1910.212 (Machine Guarding)
Protecting workers from sparks and rotating parts on large machinery is a must if the machine is a possible hazard. If machines are to be set at a fixed location, they must be anchored to ensure no movement occurs. Blades are required to be guarded. The employees in the machine area must have sufficient space to work around the machine and the guarding must be set in place to prevent any inherent hazards.

11 – 1926.652 (Excavations)
Excavations can be extremely dangerous if improperly prepared for. Sloping and benching systems are a necessity. Trenching hazards in which improperly designed openings can cave in on workers are more common than they should be in the industry. There are also a plethora of other hazards in excavation such as toxic fumes and lack of oxygen.

12 – 1910.272 (Grain Handling Facilities)
Combustion is a serious concern in grain handling facilities. Fine grain dust can combust and cause fatal explosions. Ignition sources and grain accumulation are two of the most common culprits in serious injury in these facilities. There is also a serious risk of engulfment, and employees should be properly harnessed when entering a grain storage structure from above.

There are, of course, more violations, but these are less common. Many times, these violations could be completely avoided if employers put in the work to ensure safety. In order to lower the risk to employees, employers need to concentrate on the seemingly smaller issues that result in serious injury.

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