OSHA’s Top 10: The Most Cited Violations for FY 2020

Employees and Foreman doing over OSHA citations on the job site.

Although OSHA doesn’t typically publish its Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards until the first week in April, the agency’s Deputy Directorate of Enforcement Programs Patrick Kapust recently presented preliminary data on the most cited violations in FY 2020 during a webinar with Safety+Health magazine.

The top 10 most cited OSHA violations in FY 2020 were:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (29 CFR 1926.501): 5,424 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 3,199
  3. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,649
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 2,538
  5. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,129
  6. Lockout / Tagout (1910.147): 2,065
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,932
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,621
  9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,369
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,313

According to the preliminary data, OSHA’s Fall Protection – General Requirements standard (29 CFR 1926.501) was the most frequently cited standard for the 10th consecutive year.

With falls from elevated surfaces a leading cause of workplace injury and death, OSHA has a vested interest in ensuring compliance with standards that protect workers who perform jobs from heights. Three additional standards related to elevation hazards (Scaffolding, Ladders, and Fall Protection – Training Requirements) also made the Top 10. In FY 2019, Fall Protection – General Requirements accounted for over 6,000 citations. Perhaps due in part to the pandemic, OSHA issued just 5,424 citations under the standard in FY 2020.

While this year’s list included the same ten standards from last year’s Top 10, there were some shakeups. That includes violations involving ladders, which entered the top five after being the sixth most cited violation in FY 2019. Notably, violations of Respiratory Protection standards rose from #5 in FY 2019 to #3 in FY 2020, despite OSHA not having a specific standard for COVID-19.

Employers Can Use OSHA’s Top 10 to Guide Compliance Efforts

OSHA’s annual Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards provides a great deal of insight into the agency’s enforcement efforts and the specific types of violations for which they look.

Employers that operate worksites or employ workers to whom these standards apply can use the Top 10 as a good starting point to correct hazards and effectively manage worksite safety. However, employers must be sure to tailor their internal audits, policies, and training programs so that they address issues specific to their industry and work duties.

This includes the need to meet OSHA training requirements associated with general industry and construction worksites and create custom compliance and training programs based on specific aspects of worksites.

All employers can benefit from reviewing the Top 10 list and how their compliance efforts stack up when it comes to the most frequently cited standards. If you need assistance evaluating your compliance needs or creating comprehensive compliance programs to protect your workforce – or if you have been issued a citation – contact Hendershot Cowart P.C. to speak with one of our OSHA law experts.

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