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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations

OSHA’s Top 10 Violations

OSHA Top 10 Violations

The 10 most frequently cited Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations are as follows:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Respiratory protection
  3. Ladders
  4. Hazard communication
  5. Scaffolding
  6. Fall protection training
  7. Lockout/Tagout
  8. Eye and face protection
  9. Powered industrial trucks
  10. Machinery and machine guarding

Unfortunately, these top 10 most frequently cited violations have not changed over the past decade. Even with the overall push for a higher priority towards safety in the workplace, employees are still working in conditions that pose a risk to their safety and health. Luckily, many of these violations (and the accidents associated with them) can be prevented. Throughout this article, we will discuss different preventative techniques that can be implemented in the workplace to avoid these OSHA violations.

What Is an OSHA Violation?

Before we dive into the top 10 OSHA violations and how to avoid them, we will first discuss what an OSHA violation is and how it pertains to safety in the workplace.

When a business or employee willfully or unknowingly disregards potential and actual safety hazards, this is an OSHA violation. A violation does not always mean an incident occurred, violations can also be discovered through an inspection. OSHA enforces its regulations and standards through these inspections. OSHA inspections are conducted based on the following order of priority:

  1. Imminent danger
  2. Severe injuries and illnesses
  3. Worker complaints
  4. Referrals
  5. Targeted inspections
  6. Follow-up inspections

What Does It Have To Do With Workplace Safety?

OSHA ensures the safety and health of workers by establishing and enforcing standards, as well as providing training, outreach education, and alignment assistance. Employers are required by OSHA law to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.

When an employer disregards these safety standards, hazards in the workplace arise. Hazards are potential threats or risks to life, health, property, or the environment. The majority of hazards are inert or potential, with only a theoretical risk of harm; however, when a hazard becomes “active,” it can cause an emergency situation. Not all hazards pose an immediate threat, but hazards can escalate and result in an injury or fatality.

Citations are issued as a warning to prevent these risks from escalating, and violations are issued as a consequence of disregarding the standards set out by OSHA.

Preventative Measures for OSHA’s Top 10 Violations

Most, if not all, workplace accidents are preventable. All it takes is following the safety procedures or policies in place regarding the task at hand. For example, to prevent a machine malfunction that could result in injury or death, operators could simply perform the pre-shift inspection that standards require. Ta-da, crisis averted.

Fall Protection

The most common preventative measures against fall hazards are fall protection. There are different types of fall protection, and each can be categorized into one of three groups.

  1. Fall prevention systems: These systems are the most secure because they work to eliminate the hazards altogether. Some examples of this would be guardrails and vertical safety nets.
  2. Fall restraint systems: These systems are not as efficient as fall prevention but work to keep the user from getting too close to the fall hazard. These systems can include devices such as non-shock absorbing lanyards.
  3. Fall arrest systems: Fall arrest systems are the last line of defense against fall hazards. These systems are designed to stop a user’s momentum if they’ve started to fall.

Another important preventative measure against fall hazards is a fall protection plan. A fall protection plan should consist of safety measures and guidelines to help employees keep themselves safe. They must also entail reasons why fall protection should or should not be used in certain areas of the worksite. 

Some additional safety measures employers can establish in the workplace could include:

  • Hole covers
  • Railings
  • Toeboards and netting
  • Rebar caps

Above anything else, safety training is the most important safety measure in any workplace. The chances of incidents in the workplace drastically decrease when employees have received proper safety training. Luckily for you, we offer a Fall Protection Training course that is available for purchase today. 

Respiratory Protection

One of the most efficient ways to avoid a respiratory protection violation in the workplace is wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). By wearing the proper PPE, workers can protect themselves from nearly all of the dangers that air contaminants present. 

Respiratory protection is mainly used in a work setting that involves exposure to hazardous air contaminants or chemicals. Every workplace will be different, and because of this, employers must provide the proper type of respirator for the substance and level of exposure involved. The two main categories of respirators used in most circumstances are as follows: 

  1. Air-purifying respirators use filters to remove harmful substances from the air.
  2. Air-supplying respirators provide a greater level of protection because it provides you with new, clean air from an outside source rather than purifying the existing air.

A second preventative measure that should be used in any workplace that contains known contaminants is a respiratory protection program. This program should establish worksite-specific procedures that regulate when and how respiratory protection is to be used. It is important that this program should be updated as often as necessary to ensure that any changes in the workplace are reflected in it.

The most important aspect of safety in any workplace is safety training. Here at Hard Hat Training, we offer an OSHA Aligned Respiratory Safety Training course.


The most common cause of ladder violations resulting in an injury or fatality is ignorance. Ladders are seen as simple tools that can be used with minimal requirements. This way of thinking is what causes most ladder-related incidents. The best way to avoid a ladder violation in the workplace is to ensure that employees know how to properly use the ladder. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Choosing the right ladder for the task at hand
  • Understanding the limits of the ladder 
  • Using the ladder for what it was designed for 
  • Performing regular inspections
  • Knowing how to properly climb the ladder

Employees can learn all of this information and more by taking and completing our Ladder Safety Training course.

Hazard Communication

Safety data sheets (SDSs) are a great way to prevent incidents or accidents in the workplace and ultimately avoid an OSHA violation. SDSs are reference tools created by hazardous chemical manufacturers, importers, and distributors. They include standardized hazard warnings and precautions regarding hazardous chemicals used in the workplace.

Safety data sheets identify the product and describe any physical, health, or environmental hazards of the chemical. They list protective measures you can take when using, storing, or transporting the chemical. SDSs also provide guidance on how to respond to various emergency situations and how to administer first aid. 

Another safety measure that should be used in any work environment where employees work around hazardous materials is a hazard communication program. The goal of the hazard communication program is to keep employees safe, which is why it’s so important for employers to have one in place. 

As stated previously, employee safety training also plays a vital role in workplace safety. Our Hazard Communication Safety Training course complies with OSHA Requirements and covers all the necessary hazard communication safety topics employees need to know.

Scaffolding Violations

According to OSHA, the four most common causes of accidents associated with the use of scaffolding are: 

  1. Plank or support giving way
  2. Slip, trips, and falls
  3. Lack of fall protection
  4. Being struck by a falling object

All of these causes can be corrected by implementing and using the following safety measures when working with, on, or around scaffolding:

  • Performing pre-shift inspections: Scaffolds and scaffold components must be inspected before every work shift and after any occurrence that might affect the scaffold’s stability and structural integrity. 
  • Using the right type of fall protection: Every employee working on a scaffold that is more than 10 feet above a lower level must be protected from falling using fall protection devices.
  • Wearing protective equipment: PPE is a must when working in any industrial or construction setting, especially at heights.

Employee safety training is important in any workplace. Training courses inform employees and arm them against hazards and accidents with safety information. Luckily, here at Hard Hat Training, we offer a Scaffolding Safety Training course that can be purchased and completed today. 

Fall Protection Training

While we have already discussed the fall protection violations, these violations are specific to the training in fall protection. 

Receiving a violation for fall protection training just means that your employees did not receive proper or OSHA Aligned safety training on fall protection. As an employer, you are responsible for providing any employee who works at a height with fall protection safety training. 


Lockout is a way to control hazardous energy sources through locking devices. Tagout is when you attach a tag to the power source of a machine. Tags warn others of the dangers that would be present from operating the equipment at that time.

Lockout/tagout (LOTO) is a safety measure in and of itself. That being said, the best way to avoid a LOTO violation is to ensure that your employees know and understand who is authorized to apply, use, and remove LOTO devices. 

Authorized employees are those with the responsibility to apply, use, and remove LOTO devices. Authorized employees must receive specific training to recognize hazardous energy sources, identify the type and magnitude of the energy available in the workplace, and properly isolate and control that energy.

Affected employees are those that usually use the machine or work in the general area of the machine that is locked out. Additionally, they do not perform service or maintenance on the machine.

Other employees include anyone who might work in an area where LOTO procedures could be utilized. These employees must receive instruction on LOTO procedures so they can properly follow the safety guidelines. These other employees are not authorized to apply or remove LOTO devices. 

Employees can learn more about the LOTO policies and procedures by taking and completing our Lockout/Tagout Safety Training course.

Eye & Face Protection

Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of employees in the workplace, including protecting them from eye and face hazards. Overall, their duties to protect employees from these hazards can be summed up into three categories: hazard assessment, equipment selection, and safety training.

A hazard assessment is a thorough evaluation of the work area to identify all hazards present that require the use of PPE. It is recommended that employers conduct an initial hazard assessment and then periodically identify any new or regular hazards that may have developed.

If an employer determines that there are hazards present in the workplace, the employer must then select and provide appropriate and well-fitting PPE to protect all workers who could be exposed to the hazard.

Employers must provide training to each employee who works in an environment that poses safety and health hazards. Furthermore, our Eye & Face Protection Safety Training course is aligned with the specific OSHA Requirements regarding face and eye protection in the workplace.

Powered Industrial Trucks

Powered industrial truck (PIT) safety begins with being familiar with the machine you are using and knowing its limits. The most common cause of PIT accidents is a tipover. The stability of a PIT relates to load securement, load handling, and the surfaces and slopes across which loads will be transported. In other words, stability plays a big role in PIT operations. 

Employees will need to understand the different stabilizing factors of their PIT. Safety training is the best way to ensure that they do. Our Powered Industrial Truck Safety Training course covers the principle of stability among other important safety topics employees need to know.

Machine Guarding

Moving machine parts can cause serious workplace injuries like crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Workers must be protected from these injuries with safeguards. Any machine part, function, or process that has the potential to cause injury must be guarded.


One of the most efficient ways to avoid a machine guarding violation in the workplace is by ensuring that all machines with moving parts are equipped with the proper type of guard. There are different types of guards, each can be divided into one of four general groups: 

  1. Fixed guards
  2. Interlocking guards
  3. Adjustable guards
  4. Self-adjusting guards

Reiterating again, safety training is required in every kind of workplace. The chance of injury or fatality in the workplace decreases when employees receive proper training. Our Machine Guarding Safety Training course adheres to OSHA Requirements and regulations.

In Summary

Here at Hard Hat Training, we have to take a hard stance: in this day and age, there can be no excuse for disregarding the rules. You cannot plead ignorance anymore. Employers know they need to train their employees–no matter what.