Enforcement and Inspection

OSHA’s Top 10 Violations for 2013—and How to Avoid Them

These top 10 violations are the ones to watch. Are you in danger of breaking these standards at your workplace?

Make sure your safety is OSHA compliant.

Standard Number of Violations
1. Fall protection in construction (1926.501) 8,241

Frequently violated requirements include failure to use guardrails, safety nets, or personal fall arrest systems in residential construction; failure to protect open sides and edges; failure to prevent falls from roofs; and failure to cover holes.

Tip: Employers have many options for protecting workers from falls, including guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, and the adoption of safe work practices. Choose the best protection method for your particular worksite.

2. Hazard communication (1910.1200) 6,156

The most commonly violated requirements include failure to have a written program, inadequate employee education and training, improper or no labels on containers, and lack of, or lack of access to, material safety data sheets (MSDSs) and/or safety data sheets (SDSs).
Tip: The first deadline for OSHA’s revised hazard communication standard was December 1, 2013. Make sure your employees have been trained on reading and interpreting the new chemical labels and 16-section SDSs.


3. Scaffolding in construction (1926.451) 5,423

Not providing safe access to scaffolding surfaces, lack of fall and/or falling object protection, and lack of guardrails are some frequently cited issues.

Tip: Make sure your scaffolds and scaffold components are inspected for visible defects by a competent person before each work shift.

4. Respiratory protection (1910.134) 3,879

Frequent violations include lack of a written respiratory protection program, improper respirator selection for hazards present, improper respirator storage and fit, and lack of medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators.

Tip: Adequate respiratory protection depends on two equally important factors: The actual protective equipment, along with its proper fit and maintenance, and training your employees to use the equipment properly.

5. Electrical, wiring methods (1910.305) 3,452

Common violations include problems with flexible cords and cables, boxes, and temporary wiring; poor use of extension cords; and using temporary wiring as permanent wiring.

Tip: Extension cords are not a substitute for permanent wiring. Make sure your workers are using them properly.

6. Powered industrial trucks (1910.78) 3,340

Inadequate operator training and refresher training and poor condition of powered industrial trucks (PITs) when returned to service after repair are two of the most violated areas.

Tip: Inspect powered industrial trucks at least daily and before each work shift, and remove any trucks that need repairs from service promptly.

7. Ladders in construction (1926.1053) 3,311

Common violations include damaged side rails, use of the top ladder step, using an inappropriate ladder for a job, and excessive loads on ladders.

Tip: Inspect ladders regularly to make sure all rungs and steps are in good condition, that steps are clean and free of grease or oil, and that ladders are free of splinters or sharp edges.

8. Lockout/tagout (1910.147) 3,254


Frequent violations include poor or no energy control procedures, inadequate worker training, and incomplete inspections.

Tip: Make sure you understand the difference between authorized employees, affected employees, and all other employees, and provide appropriate lockout/tagout training to each group.

9. Electrical, general (1910.303) 2,745


Exposure to electric shock and electrocution are two of the most commonly cited hazards.

Tip: Make sure you understand the duties and responsibilities for qualified and unqualified workers and train each group accordingly.

10. Machine guarding (1910.212) 2,701


Point of operation exposures, inadequate or no anchoring of fixed machinery, and exposure to blades are some of the top violations.

Tip: Make sure to guard machines at exposed points of entry, ingoing nip points, blades, rotating parts, and any operating parts that send chips or sparks.

Prevent Citations


One of the best ways to prevent citations is to keep a sharp eye on compliance. Employment lawyer Tiffani Hiudt Casey of Fisher and Phillips recommends conducting self-audits and reviews on a regular basis. She urges employers to always correct identified hazards immediately and document the entire process, even if informally.

When you identify problems, assign responsibility for getting them fixed. And if you find that someone has broken the rules, discipline accordingly. Casey says this shows you’re taking the matter as seriously as you would an external audit or OSHA inspection.

Make sure your audits are conducted completely and that you correct any hazards found. An identified hazard that has not been addressed can be proof for OSHA that you were aware of a problem but did not do anything to correct it.

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