Often, workplace hazards are articulated through dismal statistics that demonstrate their threats after it is too late. For instance, 5,333 workers died on the job in 2019. However, each year, OSHA releases a list of its top 10 most frequently cited violations. The 2020 OSHA top 10 accounts for cited standards from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020, and these violations correlate with workplace injuries and highlight areas where all workplaces need to place a greater emphasis on safety.
OSHA Top 10 Violations of 2020:
- Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501): 5,424 violations
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,199 violations
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,649 violations
- Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,538 violations
- Ladders (1926.1053): 2,129 violations
- Control of Hazardous Energy, Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,065 violations
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,932 violations
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,621 violations
- Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,369 violations
- Machinery and Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,313 violations
Why is the OSHA Top 10 So Important?
OSHA publishes its list of top 10 most common citations to alert employers who might need to remedy recognized hazards before OSHA shows up at their workplace. OSHA regulations exist to keep personnel safe, and neglecting them isn’t just breaking the law, it’s putting your workers at risk.
Unfortunately, year after year, the OSHA top 10 remains relatively static. When you compare the 2020 list to the OSHA top 10 violations of 2019, although the order has changed, you will see the ten same violations. By shedding a light on these often-neglected areas of safety, the OSHA top 10 shows all employers, even those not at risk, where they need to focus safety efforts.
Standards Provide Further Safety
While the OSHA top 10 demonstrates a lack of adherence to OSHA standards, employers can provide further protection to their workers by following voluntary consensus standards. Topping the OSHA list is fall protection, an interest addressed in numerous standards documents. Notably, there’s the fall protection code, covered in the ANSI/ASSP Z359 series, which features requirements for full body harnesses and a comprehensive managed fall protection program, among numerous other interests.
Ladders moved up a position from 2019, and, whether you’re working with wood ladders, metal ladders, or reinforced plastic ladders, American National Standards published by the American Ladder Institute (ALI) assure their safety. You can learn more about ladder safety through the series of posts ALI writes for National Ladder Safety Month on the ANSI Blog each year.
Other hazardous areas of interest in the OSHA top 10 are addressed directly by widely used voluntary consensus standards. For example, ANSI/ISEA Z87.1-2020 covers eye and face protection, ANSI B56.1-2020 deals with industrial trucks, and ANSI/ASSP Z244.1 helps control hazardous energy by establishing lockout and tagout methods.
Past OSHA Top 10 Lists of Violations
We’ve discussed the OSHA top 10 in recent years. Past lists of OSHA’s most frequently cited violations can be useful for comprehending the importance of safety. These include: