On Safety

On Safety: A closer look at OSHA’s ‘Top 10’ violations – Part VI


Additionally, 24 violations were cited under the General Duty Clause – Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. These violations were issued for serious safety and health hazards for which no OSHA standard exists. The clause was cited for explosion hazards; employees being pulled into, struck by, or caught in objects or equipment; issues with the safety of the crane hooks used in metal pouring; chemical exposure for which OSHA has no permissible exposure limit or the agency felt that the existing PEL was inadequate; and a potential amputation hazard.

For the heavy civil engineering and construction industry, a total of 2,791 violations were issued, of which 1,891 were cited as serious. The Top 10 standards cited are:

Rank OSHA standard No. of violations Standard description
1 1926.652(a)(1) 463 Lack of protection for employees against cave-ins
2 1926.651(c)(2) 255 Lack of a means of egress from trenches
3 1926.21(b)(2) 149 Lack of training for each employee on how to recognize and avoid safety hazards
4 1926.651(j)(2) 139 Failure to protect employees from material or equipment that could fall into the trench/excavation
5 1926.651(k)(1) 121 Failure to conduct daily inspections of trenches and excavations by a competent person
6 1926.100(a) 90 Hard hats – Employees working in areas where there is a possible danger of head injury from impact or falling/flying objects, or from electrical shock and burns, shall be protected by protective helmets
7 Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act – the General Duty Clause 85 Failure to provide a safe and healthy work environment
8 1926.651(k)(2) 63 Failure of a competent person to remove exposed employees from safety hazards
9 1904.39(a)(2) 39 Failure to report the hospitalization of one or more injured employees to OSHA within 24 hours
1926.651(h)(1) 39 Working in excavations with standing water and failure to take adequate precautions

For the standards cited, the clear standouts are the number of violations related to trenching and excavations. Additionally, 85 violations were cited under the General Duty Clause. The key standouts under the clause were construction-related lockout/tagout, lack of communication during excavations, lack of protection against traffic, and employees being struck by or caught in objects or equipment.

For the miscellaneous manufacturing industry, a total of 876 violations were issued, of which 628 were cited as serious. The top standards cited were:

Rank OSHA standard No. of violations Standard description
1 1910.1200(e)(1) 43 Hazard Communication – Lack of a written program
2 1910.1200(h)(1) 36 Hazard Communication – Lack of employee training and education
1910.212(a)(1) 36 Machine Guarding – General machine guarding
4 1926.453(b)(2) 23 Construction – Aerial lift issues with the boom and extension platforms
5 1910.134(e)(1) 22 Respiratory Protection – Lack of medical evaluations
6 1910.147(c)(4) 20 Lockout/Tagout – Lack of a written energy control program
7 1910.147(c)(7) 19 Lockout/Tagout – Lack of employee training and communication
8 1910.67(c)(2) 16 Walking-working surfaces related – Issues with vehicle-mounted elevated and rotating extensions and articulating booms and platforms
9 1910.134(c)(1) 15 Respiratory Protection – Lack of a written program
10 1910.134(c)(2) 14 Respiratory Protection – Voluntary use of respirators
1910.212(a)(3) 14 Machine Guarding – Lack of point of operation machine guarding

The majority of the most cited violations in this industry centered around machine guarding and lockout/tagout.

Part VII of this series will include the top violations in FY 2020 for three other industries – yet to be named.

This article represents the views of the authors and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Fairfax (CIH, retired 2017) joined OSHA in January 1978 and retired from the agency in 2013. At OSHA, he was a practicing field industrial hygienist, as well as the deputy director and director of enforcement programs. In 2008, Richard served as acting director of construction and, in 2010, was designated deputy assistant secretary – overseeing all field, enforcement and training operations. From 1993 through 2010, Richard wrote an industrial hygiene column entitled, “OSHA Compliance Issues” for the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. He still serves on the Editorial Review Board. Richard now works part time for NSC-ORC HSE.

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