Industrial Hygiene


Learning about the most common OSHA violations and how they are classified will help you adjust your business model to avoid expensive fines, increase employee safety, and decrease time lost from accidents and investigations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classifies violations of its safety rules and regulations into one of five categories:

  • Serious Violations
  • “Other Than” Serious Violation
  • Willful Violations
  • Repeated Violations
  • Failure to Correct Prior Violations

Any of these violations can result in fines of up to $250,000 and possible disruption of your company’s operations. You can avoid these fines and disruptions by ensuring that your employees are properly trained in OSHA safety regulations.

The 5 Most Common OSHA Violations

Use this list of common OSHA violations as a bird’s-eye overview of how your company would fair during an audit. Are you making mistakes that could lead to an expensive citation?

1. Inadequate Fall Protection (1926.501) – 6,721

Slips and falls on construction sites and in manufacturing plants are the number one reason employers receive OSHA citations. According to OSHA guidelines, you must determine if working and walking surfaces have the structural integrity and strength to safely support your employees.

Guardrail systems, personal fall arrest systems, and safety net systems must be in place before you allow your employees to work in areas of higher elevation. Employees using a hoist must also be protected from falling six feet or more by personal fall arrest or guardrail systems.

2. Minimal or Missing Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 5,192

To avoid violations of hazard communication, you must ensure that the labels on hazardous chemical containers have not been defaced or removed and that the safety data sheets associated with these chemicals are accessible to your employees during each shift.

You, as the employer, must also provide OSHA-approved training to any employee handling hazardous chemicals. The improper handling and disposal of hazardous waste are a health risk to both your employees and your community.

3. Unsafe Scaffolding (1926.451) – 4,295

Scaffolds and scaffolding components that are incapable of supporting their own weight plus four times the weight of its maximum intended load (workers) are a commonly cited OSHA violation. In addition, suspension ropes and all connecting hardware should support six times or more the maximum intended load transmitted or applied to the rope holding up the scaffolding.

4. Improper Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 3,305

If you fail to provide your employees with the equipment necessary to protect their health, you could be issued an OSHA citation. Respiratory protection is essential for employees working around harmful gases, dust, smokes, vapors, fogs, and sprays.

OSHA lists dozens of different respiratory protectors that are expected to be used by employees working in specific hazardous situations. Some of these respirators include positive pressure, supplied air, and pressure demand respirators. If OSHA finds your employees are not wearing the correct type of respirator according to their guidelines, you will be cited and fined. Familiarize yourself with the proper respiratory protection for your industry’s work environment and implement the correct regulations accordingly.

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 3,002

This violation can occur when unexpected energization or startup of your business’s machines or equipment could harm an employee. This is an important regulation for the safety of employees who are required to repair or service heavy equipment and for employees who have to work in proximity to conductors and other electrical hazards.

To avoid injury, you must utilize both lockout devices – a device that ensures machinery cannot be powered on until the device is removed – and a tagout device – a tag that clearly indicates the use of an energy isolating device. Tagouts ensure that machinery is not used until the device blocking power is safely removed.

Preventing OSHA Violations

Although OSHA representatives may seem overly exacting during an inspection, these common OSHA violations are all avoidable job hazards that can be prevented with the proper training and instruction from a qualified safety consultation firm.

For more information about OSHA training, contact SEA Inc. at 501-568-3111 to speak with one of our certified trainers.

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