Be Aware in the Workplace: OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations in 2016

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a list of the 10 most cited safety and health violations in the United States. OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about its findings so they can take steps to recognize, correct, and prevent future potential hazards and related violation citations.

During the federal government’s fiscal year 2016, OSHA issued more than 35,000 citations listed in its top 10 most cited violation categories. Many of the violations cited included injuries and illnesses that are preventable with foresight and proper planning. In fact, the list of top 10 citation categories rarely changes from year to year. Fall protection remains the top cited violation for the sixth year in a row. Being aware of these common dangers and workplace hazards and creating and implementing plans to document your organization’s health and safety procedures can aid in reducing the approximate 3 million workplace injuries and accidents that happen each year. Take some time and explore the links in the table below for more details on the top 10 cited violation categories.

Most Cited Violation Categories of Fiscal Year 2016

Rank Category Standard # of Violations
1 Fall Protection* (1926.501) 6,906
2 Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 5,665
3 Scaffolding* (1926.451) 3,900
4 Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 3,573
5 Control of Hazardous Energy - Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 3,406
6 Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 2,855
7 Ladders* (1926.1053) 2,625
8 Machine Guarding - General Requirement (1910.212) 2,448
9 Electrical - Wiring Methods (1910.305) 1,937
10 Electrical - General Requirement (1910.303) 1,704

*Violations within this category apply to OSHA’s Standard Number 1926, Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.

Following are some tips on how to improve your organization’s safety and health program and better protect your employees in 2017:

  • Become Familiar with OSHA Standards. The rules set by OSHA are put in place to protect people in the workplace or at the job site. By following these rules and guidelines, you will reduce your personal risk of injury and help protect those around you.

  • Encourage Employees to Report Hazards to Management. Something as small as a wet spot on the floor can cause severe injury. Any hazard that you witness should be reported to management immediately. It only takes a few seconds to do the right thing and you just might save someone’s life.

  • Store Hazardous Chemicals Properly. Failure to understand the hazards of chemicals in the workplace can lead to their casual use, which may lead to employee injuries, costly cleanups, and property losses. Used properly, most products are both safe and effective. Here are some simple guidelines for using and storing chemicals:

    • Take an inventory of all the chemicals used in the workplace. List the quantities on hand, where they are stored, and what they are stored in.
    • Request Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) from companies that supply chemicals identified on your inventory list. Keep a log of SDSs on site, should they be needed for training and/or for quick reference in the event of an emergency.
    • Label all containers of chemicals.
    • Ensure the containers are stored properly.
    • Identify the requisite personal protective equipment needed for working with each chemical and ensure those who need-to-know are aware.
    • Train employees on the chemicals that are used in the workplace.

    Note: These guidelines are not all encompassing of the requirements of the Hazard Communication (HAZCOM) Standard, but are meant to provide a place to start. For more information, please visit the the HAZCOM standard and requirements for your workplace on OSHA's website.

  • Report any injury, accident, or near miss. If you are injured at the workplace, make sure to report it right away. Even a small injury can turn into something larger if not properly treated. Seek first-aid and then report your injury to your supervisor. Remember, others can learn from your injury, accident, or near miss report!

  • Keep your workplace area clean. Keep your work area clean and uncluttered to reduce the likelihood of accidents and ensure your safety and that of others. For example, the chances of an accident are greatly reduced by removing all trip hazards from your workspace.

These suggestions are by no means an exhaustive list of how to improve health and safety in the workplace. However, by being aware of the most common violations, you can begin taking steps to improve the safety and welfare of your employees and reduce the risk of potential violations and subsequent fines. Visit the OSHA website for more information about regulations, violations, and advice on improving the health and safety of your workplace.