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Top 10 OSHA violations for 2016

By Sanford Brown June 7, 2017

iStock 16078431 XLARGE webThe federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with making sure workplaces are safe and healthy for working men and women. It sets and enforces standards and provides training, outreach, education, and assistance to employers and workers. Insurers know that insureds that follow OSHA’s direction concerning risks and exposures are less likely to have workers’ compensation claims. No one disputes that OSHA is an important organization, but there’s also no doubt that a pending OSHA inspection can make an employer a bit nervous.

Compiled from work-site inspections

The OSHA list of the top ten most frequently cited standards for 2016 was compiled from its work-site inspections. The list can help inform employers about the most common violations. It’s a great resource for workers’ compensation insurers to know what standards to look for before insuring or renewing a policy. Insurers can proactively encourage customers to make sure these risks are mitigated.

Here are the top ten risks most frequently cited by OSHA standards, with the number of violations for 2016. A link to each regulation for more information is provided after the description:

    1. Fall protection, Regulation 1926.501 — 6,487 violations
      This regulation covers a range of fall protection issues in residential construction, including unprotected sides and edges, roofing work on low-slope roofs and steep roofs, and protection from falling through holes, including skylights. See 1926.501 - Fall Protection.
  1. Hazard communication, Regulation 1910.1200 — 4,463 violations
    Regulation 1910.1200 concerns written hazard communication programs. It covers employee information and training, maintaining copies of Safety Data Sheets in the workplace and making sure they are readily available to employees, and having those sheets on premises for each hazardous chemical. The regulation also regulates training on the employer’s hazard communication program. See 1910.1200 - Hazard Communication.
  2. Scaffolding, Regulation 1926.451 — 2,112 violations
    This code regulates scaffolding-related issues, such as fall protection, providing access, platform construction, the use of personal fall-arrest systems or guardrail systems, and the installation of those guardrail systems. See 1926.451 - Scaffolding.
  3. Respiratory protection, Regulation 1910.134 — 1,929 violations
    Regulation 1910.134 covers medical evaluations to determine an employee’s ability to use a respirator. It also regulates the written respiratory protection program, fit testing for employees using a tight-fitting face-piece respirator and the testing frequency, and providing respirators at the request of employees or permitting employees to use their own respirators. In addition, the code includes respirator selection and the evaluation of respiratory hazards in the workplace. See 1910.134 - Respiratory Protection.
  4. Lockout/tagout, Regulation 1910.147 — 1,943 violations
    This regulation covers the development, documentation, and use of energy control procedures, as well as establishing an energy control program, periodic inspection of energy control procedures (at least annually), energy control program training, and training regarding recognition of hazardous energy sources and other topics. See 1910.147 - Lockout/TagoutLockout/Tagout.
  5. Powered industrial trucks, Regulation 1910.178 — 1,643 violations
    Regulation 1910.178 covers operator training to make sure operators are competent to safely operate a powered industrial vehicle, as demonstrated by completion of training and evaluation. It regulates refresher training and evaluation, mandating that an operator’s performance must be evaluated at least once every three years. The code also covers certification of operator training and evaluation; taking powered industrial trucks out of service when unsafe, defective, or in need of repair; and examining powered industrial trucks daily or after each shift before placing them in service again. See 1910.178 - Powered Industrial Trucks.
  6. Ladders, Regulation 1926.1053 — 2,248 violations
    This code mandates extending portable ladder side rails at least 3 feet above the upper landing surface and using ladders only for the purpose for which they were designed. It also covers not using the top or top step of a stepladder as a step, marking or tagging portable ladders with structural defects and removing them from service, and not carrying objects or loads that could cause an employee to lose balance and fall. See 1926.1053 – Stairways and Ladders.
  7. Machine guarding, Regulation 1910.212 — 2,374 violations
    Regulation 1910.212 deals with providing one or more methods of machine guarding. It also covers point-of-operation guarding, anchoring fixed machinery, affixing guards to the machine, and guarding fan blades. See 1910.212 – Machinery and Machine Guarding.
  8. Electrical: wiring methods, Regulation 1910.305 — 1,279 violations
    This code specifies not using flexible cords and cables as a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure and closing unused openings in cabinets, boxes, and fittings. It also covers connecting flexible cords and cables to devices and fittings so that strain relief is provided to prevent pull from being directly transmitted to joints or terminal screws. The code also regulates providing pull boxes, junction boxes, and fittings with covers identified for protecting conductors entering cutout boxes, cabinets, or fittings from abrasion. See 1910.305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods.
  9. Electrical: general requirements, Regulation 1910.303 — 1,089 violations
    Regulation 1910.303 covers installing and using listed or labeled equipment in accordance with instructions included in the listing or labeling, guarding live parts (600 volts, nominal, or less to ground), not using work space for storage, guarding work space, and having sufficient access and working space around electrical equipment (600 volts, nominal, or less to ground). The code also regulates marking service, feeder, and branch circuits at their disconnecting means or overcurrent device. See 1910.303 - Electrical, General.

Where to find more information

OSHA has a wealth of information on hazards, standards, and practices on its website. Verisk Insurance Solutions works with insurers to help assess and analyze risk in the workplace and makes available tools to help control losses. To learn more about loss control information that you can provide to your insureds, please visit Verisk’s Engineering and Safety Service (E&S™) website. You can find point-of-sale workers’ compensation underwriting solutions at www.verisk.com/wc. And feel free to contact me directly at sbrown@verisk.com.


Sanford Brown is assistant vice president for product management, Verisk Insurance Solutions. You can contact Sanford at sbrown@verisk.com.