OSHA’S Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Safety Violations For 2015


An annual tradition at the National Safety Congress is OSHA’s  announcement of the Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for the fiscal year and 2015 was no different. “In injury prevention, we go where the data tells us to go,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The OSHA Top 10 list is a roadmap that identifies the hazards you want to avoid on the journey to safety excellence.”

The Top 10 for FY 2015 are:

1.       Fall Protection– 6,721 violations. What can you do to help? Equip all of your employees who are working at heights with appropriate fall protection gear that complies with the safety standard. If the workers refuse to use them after warnings, let them go. You don’t need the hassle.

2.       Hazard Communication 5,192 violations. Have you identified and evaluated all chemical hazards in your workplace? Have you shared that critical information with all of your employees? The purpose of the HCS has remained the same since it was first enacted–to ensure that the hazards of all hazardous chemicals imported, produced or used in U.S. workplaces are evaluated and that the information is transmitted to affected employers and potentially exposed employees. This transfer of information is to be accomplished by means of a comprehensive hazard communication program that includes container labeling and other forms of warning, Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and employee training.

3.       Scaffolding 4,295 violations. Your employees must follow established guidelines to help protect those who are working on or near scaffolding at heights of 10 feet or higher. Are your employees wearing required safety belts, lifelines and lanyards or using safety nets? These systems and standards are intended to help prevent employees from falling off, onto or through working levels and to help protect employees from falling objects.

4.       Respiratory Protection 3,305 violations. NIOSH-certified respirators help protect your employees from air contaminants such as dust, fumes, gases, mist, sprays and vapors. Confined spaces, dust-filled shops, and other environments that could make the simple act of breathing dangerous are all in a day’s work for industrial workers. While keeping contaminants such as harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, and/or vapors out of the air workers breathe is the first line of defense, proper respiratory protection also is essential. If re-engineering a task or equipment fails to provide a safe working environment, employers must provide appropriate respiratory protection for every employee who might be exposed to harmful contaminants.

5.       Lockout/Tag out 3,002 violations. Do you have procedures for shutting down, isolating, blocking, and securing (locks and tags) various forms of energy? Do procedures exist and is someone assigned responsibility for removing and transferring locks and tags? Does the program require that all hazardous energy sources be isolated, locked or tagged, and otherwise disabled before anyone performs any activity where unexpected energization, startup, stored energy could occur and cause injury?

6.       Powered Industrial Trucks 2,760 violations. Maintenance, operator training and certification on forklifts, motorized hand trucks and pallet trucks is a crucial component of facility safety. Powered industrial truck violations annually remain among OSHA’s Top Ten most frequently cited standard violations. One of the major compliance issues is failure to train. Employers must develop and implement a training program based on the general principles of safe truck operation, the types of vehicle(s) being used and the hazards they create, and the general safety requirements of the OSHA standard. Trained operators must know how to do the job properly and do it safely as demonstrated by workplace evaluations. Formal (lecture, video, etc.) and practical (demonstration and practical exercises) training must be provided. Employers must also certify that each operator has received the training and evaluate each operator’s performance at least once every three years.

7.       Ladders 2,489 violations.  Proper care and usage requirements ensure the serviceability and safety of portable ladders. Ladders should be maintained in good condition by keeping all joints tight; lubricating all wheels, locks and pulleys; replacing worn rope; and routine cleaning. Those that are defective must be destroyed or withdrawn from service. Usage requirements involve placing the ladders at an angle so they are 1 ft. away from the wall for every 4 ft. of working ladder height; allowing only one person at a time on a ladder; not placing the ladder on top of other objects to increase height or in front of doorways; and extending the ladder three feet over a point of support if climbing to a rooftop, among others.

8.       Electrical – Wiring Methods 2,404 violations. To help avoid potential violations, inspect your wiring and insulation. You must take steps to ensure proper grounding of electrical equipment.

9.       Machine Guarding 2,295 violations. Guard your machinery to help protect operators and others from hazards, such as rotating parts, flying chips, sparks and other dangers.

10.   Electrical – General Requirements 1,973 violations. Employees need to understand the potential hazards and take proper precautions before working around something as dangerous as electricity. Proper training and the right equipment are key to help ensure your employees’ safety.

Best Practices for Avoiding OSHA’S Most Common Violations and Citations

One of the best ways to improve the overall compliance of your safety program is to take a close look at the electrical safety violations for which OSHA is citing companies, AND POSSIBLY YOURS. By taking advantage of these “hard lessons learned” you can use the information to identify gaps in your current program and share what you’ve learned with senior management, facility staff, and your audit team.

Lunch & Learn BlogsI am considering putting on a lunch and learn with a seasoned safety expert who has helped many companies develop compliant electrical safety programs. IF YOU WOULD BE INTERESTED IN SUCH A SEMINAR, LET ME KNOW YOU HAVE INTEREST. IF SUFFICIENT INTEREST IS SHOWN. I WILL SET IT UP FOR A LIVE PRESENTATION AND WILL VIDEOTAPE IT FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T ATTEND. I will provide participants with an assessment of the FY 2013 electrical violation categories and suggest ways to use the information to improve overall electrical safety compliance.


The electrical OSHA violations on the FY 2013 list and how the electrical safety violation categories relate to OSHA’s 2014 enforcement strategy and initiatives. WHAT IS THE SEVERE VIOLATORS PROGRAM? Learn about the National Emphasis Program. LEARN:

• KEY CONCEPTS you can take for using the electrical safety violations to evaluate your existing compliance status
• How to incorporate this information into your audit and inspection process
• What you can do to stay ahead of OSHA enforcement actions in the area of electrical safety
• The potential impact of new and pending electrical safety regulations and consensus standards such as NFPA70E as they relate to future enforcement trends
• Ways your company can use various data bases such as the electrical violations on the Top 10 to develop your company’s own ‘Electrical Safety Focus’ list
• Why misunderstanding ‘Arc Flash’ can cost money and lives
• The key elements of an electrical safety program
• Ways to identify and evaluate resources to help you best use this information in a meaningful way

OSHA Inspector Could Look at YOUR Safety Incentive Programs Too

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is VERY concerned that safety incentive and award programs encourage the under-reporting of injuries and illnesses. I know that seems silly but OSHA is concerned. Consider that:

  • In 2012, OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax issued a memo directing inspectors to scrutinize safety incentive programs. They will be looking for evidence of UNDER- REPORTING of injuries.
  • OSHA continues to be engaged in ongoing communication that questions safety incentive programs.
  • A 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study focuses on improving incentive/disincentive policy and guidance to inspectors.

Even though many companies have been using incentive programs successfully—many for quite some time—to reduce accidents and injuries, OSHA has taken the position that there are inherent flaws in these programs.  OSHA has even directed inspectors to look closely at incentive programs where questionable activities are suspected.  A WORD TO THE WISE — NEVER FAIL TO REPORT, even if incentives are lost as a result.

Yet, when structured properly, incentive programs can play a very positive role in a safety program.  The real question is how can you structure your program to achieve success while avoiding suspicions by OSHA inspectors that your program may not be above board?  The answer is NEVER UNDER REPORT.

Does your construction project or your job involve cutting materials such as stone, rock, concrete, brick, or block?

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Respirable (breathable) crystalline silica is made of very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might encounter at the beach. It is created during work operations involving cutting stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, mortar, and industrial sand. You get exposed to dust during these operations as well as others involving sandblasting, grinding pavement and the like.

What can happen to me from exposure to crystalline silica?

Without proper engineering controls, workers can be exposed to harmful levels of respirable crystalline silica that can cause silicosis, lung cancer, and other lung and kidney diseases.

What can be done to reduce production of crystalline silica?

Applying water to a saw blade when cutting materials that contain crystalline silica – such as stone, rock, concrete, brick and block, can substantially reduce the amount of dust created during these operations.

What is OSHA doing to help reduce exposure limits?

OSHA estimates that putting stricter controls on exposure to silica, as contemplated by the new rule OSHA is proposing, will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1600 new cases of silicosis per year, once the full effects of the newly proposed rule are realized.

How can I be involved in the rulemaking process?

Written comments regarding OSHA’s proposed silica rule can be submitted within 90 days after the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is published in the Federal Register.

You may visit the Federal e- Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID# OSHA-2010-0034.

Hearings are scheduled to begin on March 4, 2014 at the Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins Building in Washington, DC.

How can I learn more?

Watch OSHA’s new “Deadly Dust” video below to see firsthand the tragic effects of silicosis on workers and how dust control methods can help limit workers’ exposure to crystalline silica.