What Does OSHA’s Top Ten Violations List for 2022 Tell Us?Dec 22, 2022
OSHA’s “Top Ten” violations list — announced earlier this fall — didn’t hold any surprises. The list doesn’t change much yearly, but it provides an interesting annual framework for understanding how violations are assessed in various industry sectors. OSHA provides an easy-to-use online utility for showing the most frequently cited 29 CFR OSHA standards by NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code. The rules created by all federal regulatory agencies are collated into a multi-part document known as the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for reference and enforcement.
OSHA also supports a utility that enables users to search and view the industry profile for violations of any specific OSHA standard. Employers are encouraged to use these tools to help them identify and address the workplace hazards OSHA is targeting in their industry.
What does the top ten list tell us this year? Five of the most cited standards apply to general industry workplaces for the fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022). OSHA defines general industry as “all industries not included in agriculture, construction, or maritime… and regulated by OSHA’s general industry standards, directives, and standard interpretations.”
- Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR §1926.501)
Fall protection must be provided when a worker is operating at a height of four feet (general industry), five feet (maritime workplaces), and six feet (construction sites). There were a total of 5,260 violations of this standard in 2022. When combined with 1,556 violations of the rule for training workers in fall prevention (29 CFR §1926.503), OSHA issued nearly 7,000 citations targeting fall protection this year. Employers are encouraged to review OSHA’s fall protection resources if there are questions.
- Respiratory Protection, general industry (29 CFR §1910.134)
If workers are required to wear respirators, employers must perform fit testing and medical evaluations, as specified in OSHA’s respiratory protection guidelines.
- Ladders, construction (29 CFR §1926.1053)
In 2022 OSHA issued 2,143 citations for violations of its ladder standard. OSHA’s guidance includes information about the safe use of extension ladders, wooden ladders, and stepladders.
- Hazard Communication, general industry (29 CFR §1910.1200)
Information about chemicals and gases in the workplace must be available and understandable to workers. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) requires articulating and disseminating such information. The components of a compliant HazCom Program include specific labels, data sheets, and training. In 2022, there were 2,424 citations issued for noncompliance with this standard.
- Scaffolding, construction (29 CFR §1926.451)
Scaffold accidents happen when the planking or support gives way or when a worker slips or is struck by an object. OSHA provides resources to ensure scaffolding safety and compliance. In 2022, OSHA issued 2,048 citations for scaffolding safety violations.
- Fall Protection Training, construction (29 CFR §1926.503)
The OSHA Fall Prevention Training Guide is a comprehensive tool for employers to develop a compliant training program.
- Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
Energy sources — electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources — in machines can be hazardous to workers when strict procedures aren’t followed. Particularly during servicing and maintenance procedures, the unexpected startup (or release of stored energy) can result in injury or death. Inadequate worker training is usually why OSHA cites an employer under this standard. In 2022, OSHA issued 1,977 citations for lockout/tagout violations. Employers are encouraged to review OSHA’s lockout/tagout compliance guidelines — including training resources — if additional information is needed.
- Eye and Face Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.102)
Employers must provide eye and face protection whenever necessary to protect against chemical, environmental, radiological, or mechanical irritants, and hazards. OSHA provides extensive eye and face protection resources for understanding eye protection compliance in general industry, maritime, and construction environments. In 2022, OSHA issued 1,401 citations for violation of this standard.
- Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
Most violations of this standard involve inadequate training, certification, and re-certification of forklift operators. Earlier this year, OSHA announced its intentions to update the powered truck rule to include the most recent design and manufacturing technology. OSHA provides comprehensive information about how the agency currently defines powered industrial trucks, the hazards associated with operating them, and the standards that OSHA expects employers to follow to ensure worker safety. In 2022, OSHA issued 1,749 citations for violation of this standard.
- Machinery and Machine Guarding, general industry (29 CFR 1910.212)
Employers are required to identify any workplace machinery that could cause injury to workers. Employers are encouraged to learn more about how machine guarding hazards are addressed in specific OSHA standards for agriculture, general industry, maritime, and construction. In 2022, OSHA issued 1,370 citations for violations of this standard.
With a larger 2023 budget — and commitment to hiring more compliance officers — OSHA is better positioned than it has been in many years to conduct more on-site inspections and invigorate its enforcement strategies.
If you have questions about your preparedness — or have been caught off guard and received a citation — don’t hesitate to contact Orr & Reno for assistance.
About the Author: James Laboe