Improve Workplace Safety with OSHA’s Top 10 Violations

Mike Ogden

No organization wants to receive notice of an OSHA violation. The penalties can be severe – $7,000 for each other-than-serious violation and up to $70,000 for each serious violation. So there’s value in analyzing OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2019 and holding it up against your organization's safety protocols for learnings and focus areas for 2020. 

OSHA’s Top 10 workplace safety violations 

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements 
  2. Hazard Communication 
  3. Scaffolding 
  4. Respiratory Protection 
  5. Hazardous Energy 
  6. Ladders 
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks 
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements 
  9. Machine Guarding 
  10. Eye and Face Protection 

As former National Safety Council President and CEO, Deborah A.P. Hersman put it, “The OSHA Top 10 is more than just a list, it is a blueprint for keeping workers safe.” 

With that blueprint for implementing a best practice safety program in mind, what could you change or create that could improve workplace safety and lower the risk of injuries and OSHA violations? Here are a few strategies and tactics to consider. 

Make fall protection your top priority 

For the fourth year in a row, fall protection garnered the most OSHA violations. Now check out #8 Fall Protection – Training Requirements, a newcomer to the list and related to #1. Address both by reviewing and upgrading the fall protection portion of your safety training program, as well as auditing safety systems and supervision. 

With the right strategy, you not only record and report incidents, you can also create and implement plans designed to prevent future incidents. You can share findings with HR, which can use real cases from the field for training and communications. By taking proactive steps, you can address both types of fall protection that made the Top 10 for OSHA violations. 

Tackle the lion’s share 

By focusing on the top three types of violations that made OSHA’s list, you can address 47% (nearly half) of the violations. The three, Fall Protection – General Requirements, Hazard Communication, and Scaffolding, make up the lion’s share. A little bit of focused effort can yield big results. Since we’ve addressed #1, let’s look at #2 designed to ensure chemical safety in the workplace and #3 that pertains to the safe use of scaffolding on construction sites. 

Download OSHA’s fact sheet on steps to an effective hazard communication program. Review all safety labels, data sheets, signage, and postings. Document findings and execute remediation plans to meet OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. Conduct job hazard analysis of scaffolding and take time to review OSHA guidance 1926.451 where all scaffolding violations were recorded. Trace the lineage from policy to control to 1926.451 citation. Is there a consistent correlation? That’s what you’re looking for.  

Streamline compliance 

Bring structure and efficiency to health and safety compliance processes with an integrated risk management platform designed for compliance activities. Use the platform to more easily accomplish tasks, from recording accidents and reporting incidents to managing site inspections and remediating job hazards. Just imagine the value of recording near misses and reviewing a collection of them from numerous working environments. You might spot a commonality that could be addressed and prevent incidents. 

Efficiency gives you more time to improve workplace safety programs. This, in turn, will reduce the number of accidents and lessen the associated compliance workload. In essence, you can both streamline compliance and make it more effective.  

Make 2020 the safest year yet 

While OSHA’s top 10 violations don’t change much year to year, that’s no reason to accept them as the status quo. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

By analyzing past OSHA violations, following best practices, and replacing manual processes with technology that streamlines compliance tasks, you will be in a much better place. Not only will you avoid OSHA notices and citations of the top 10 variety, you’ll free up time and resources to dedicate to every company’s mantra–Safety is Job One. 


Chat with a solutions expert to learn how you can take your compliance program to the next level of maturity.



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