Earlier this year, OSHA issued its annual list of the top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2020, which covers the period from October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020. This year’s list is similar to those in years past, with Fall Protection landing on top for the 10th consecutive year.
There were fewer overall violations in 2020 (24,239) compared to 2019 (26,915), which on the surface looks like good news. However, given the extended shutdowns of nonessential businesses and reduced workplace operations that were brought on by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, the drop in OSHA safety citations was to be expected, and it is really not much to celebrate.
Here is the list of OSHA’s top 10 most cited safety violations for 2020:
- Fall Protection, General Requirements
As we mentioned earlier, fall protection once again tops OSHA’s list, with a total of 5,424 citations. Falls are the leading cause worker fatalities in the construction industry, and OSHA requires that protection be provided for those who are working at heights of 6 feet or higher. Fall protection is also required regardless of height when someone is working over dangerous machinery and equipment.
- Hazard Communication
The second most cited safety standard violation for 2020 was hazard communication (aka “HazCom”), with a total of 3,199 citations. Hazard communication is frequently high on OSHA’s list, and it includes the requirements to provide labels and safety data sheets to workers who are exposed to hazardous chemicals, and to train them on how to properly handle these chemicals.
- Respiratory Protection
One of the results of the Covid-19 pandemic was an increased focus on respiratory protection; and as you might expect, the number of citations for this violation increased – from 2,450 in 2019 to 2,649 in 2020. This caused respiratory protection to move from #5 to #3 on OSHA’s list.
- Scaffolding, Construction
As we have already talked about, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and scaffolding safety violations are a significant contributor to these falls. In 2020, there were 2,538 citations for scaffolding violations, putting them at #4 on OSHA’s list. Some common scaffolding safety problems include not providing a safe means of access and lack of sufficient scaffold base support.
- Ladders, Construction
Another common fall hazard in the construction industry is inadequate ladder safety. In 2020, there were 2,129 citations for ladder safety violations, putting them at #5 on OSHA’s list. Ladders that are placed on unstable surfaces is a common violation of OSHA safety standards.
Violations of proper lockout/tagout procedures for hazardous energy control is number six on OSHA’s list, with 2,065 citations in 2020. Workers who service or maintain machines or equipment can be severely injured or killed if hazardous energy (e.g., electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, chemical, etc.) is not adequately controlled.
- Powered Industrial Trucks
Powered industrial truck safety violations come in at #7 on the list, with a total of 1,932 citations. Forklifts are among the most common sources of this violation, and forklift accidents are among the leading causes of workplace injuries and deaths.
- Fall Protection, Training Requirements
Fall protection claims another spot on OSHA’s top 10 list, this time in the area of training requirements. In 2020, there were 1,621 citations for failure to properly train employees on the hazards of falling, and failure to implement the procedures necessary to minimize these dangers.
- Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment, Eye and Face Protection
Eye and face protection is especially important with Covid-19 still a top concern, and employers must provide the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving equipment to keep their employees safe. In 2020, there were 1,369 citations for eye and face protection violations.
- Machine Guarding
Rounding out OSHA’s top 10 most cited safety violations for 2020 is machine guarding. Machines, machine parts, and machine functions or processes that can cause injury must have the proper safeguarding, and there were 1,313 citations for this type of safety violation.
Examining OSHA’s top 10 most cited safety violations helps to remind everyone of the importance of workplace safety. The consistent and repeated violations, particularly in certain industries such as construction, show that employers are still not doing nearly enough to keep their employees safe on the job. Failure to prioritize workplace safety puts workers in greater danger and increases the likelihood of serious injuries and fatalities.
Injured in a Workplace Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance
If you or a loved one suffered a workplace injury because of an OSHA safety violation or any other reason, you may be entitled to compensation beyond what is available through workers’ comp. To discuss your case and explore your legal rights and options, contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online for a free, no obligation consultation.