OSHA’s Top 10 Cited Workplace Safety Violations in FY 2019


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a long record of releasing important information to the general public, employers, and employees regarding its compliance enforcement efforts and the citations it issues for OSHA violations.

OSHA reports not only for transparency, but also as a means to alert employers and employees about the most pressing risk in the workplace today. Armed with that information, employers can prioritize hazards and the procedures and policies they have in place – which can help reduce risks of work-related accidents or catastrophes, avoid serious penalties and fines, and ensure proactive compliance before employers are hit with OSHA citations.

Read our blog: Anatomy of an OSHA Citation.

Top 10 OSHA Violations

The preliminary Top 10 list of the most frequently cited workplace violations for Fiscal Year 2019 was revealed by OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs Deputy Director Patrick Kapust, in conjunction with the National Safety Council, during the NSC 2019 Congress & Expo in San Diego earlier this month.

As Kapust notes, there were some continued trends in workplace violations during FY 2019, as well as important revelations how adept U.S. businesses are in complying with the basic rules of workplace safety. As the National Safety Council reiterates, the list should be a challenge for all employers to be better when it comes to their commitment to safety.

The Top 10 violations for FY 2019:

  1. Fall Protection, Gen. Requirements: Violations of 1926.501 the #1 spot on OSHA Top 10 list for the 9th year in a row. This section establishes employers’ requirements regarding fall protection systems, walking / working surfaces, unprotected sides and edges, elevated hazards, hoists, holes, and other related workplace dangers. Preliminary data shows OSHA issued over 6,000 citations for Fall Protection – General Requirements violations.
  2. Hazard Communication – Regulators issued more than 3,670 citations to employers who violated Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Per 1910.1200, OSHA’s HCS requirements dissemination of warnings related to hazardous chemicals in the workplace, health and physical hazards, and employee training.
  3. Scaffolding – Nearly 3,000 citations were issued for violations of 1926.451. These regulations address structural integrity and safety of scaffolds and related equipment, as well as platforms, supported and suspension scaffolding, and more.
  4. Lockout / Tagout – Roughly 2,600 employers were cited for failing to comply with regulations related to proper lockout / tagout procedures and the control of hazardous machinery which pose risks of accidents and injuries involving the release of stored energy (1926.451).
  5. Respiratory Protection – Close to 2,500 citations were issued for violations of 1910.134, OSHA’s standard for respiratory protection and personal protective equipment (PPE) in occupational settings where workers face risks due to contamination by dust, fumes, vapors, and other airborne hazards.
  6. Ladders – OSHA violations involving ladders (1926.1053) accounted for 2,345 citations during FY 2019. Regulations under this standard include fixed, portable, and self-supporting ladders.
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks – Over 2,000 violations of 1910.178, OSHA’s standard relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of specialized industrial trucks were reported in FY 2019.
  8. Fall Protection, Training Requirements – Though General Requirements topped this year’s list of the most cited violations, Fall Protection – Training Requirements also accounted for nearly 2,000 citations. Per 1926.503, that includes requirements for employer-provided training programs and procedures for use, maintenance, and other work concerning height hazards and protection systems.
  9. Machine Guarding – Just behind Fall Protection, Training Requirements violations were violations of 1910.212, Machine Guarding. OSHA regulators issued 1,743 citations to employers that failed to comply with requirements for barrier guards, tripping and electronic safety devices, and point of operation hazard controls related to dangerous machinery.
  10. Eye and Face Protection – A newcomer to OSHA’s Top 10 list last year, violations of Eye and Face Protection again made the agency’s most frequently cited violations list. Nearly 1,500 citations were issued to employers that failed to meet standards related to Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102).

While finalized data and additional details will be published in December, OSHA’s preliminary Top 10 list still shines a spotlight on the most pressing workplace safety issues. While every compliance matter is unique, these violations can pack significant consequences for workers and employers – particularly when employers have previous violations, are cited for willful or repeat violations, or find themselves in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our OSHA law team has extensive experience counseling employers on matters of proactive OSHA compliance, as well as responsive representation and defense against citations. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to speak with an attorney.

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