Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2022
Facts, Trends, and Statistics around OSHA’s Top 10 Violations
While workplaces across the country have introduced new safety guidelines and regulations in recent years to significantly reduce workplace injuries—down more than 60% since 1970—workplace accidents are still a frequent occurrence in the United States.
Moreover, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continues to cite the same safety violations year after year making it continually important to follow and comply with workplace safety standards. By adhering to OSHA standards and safety best practices, it’s possible to eliminate or minimize workplace hazards, reduce the risk of citations, and most importantly keep you and your team safe on the job.
Preliminary numbers for this year’s top OSHA violations were announced at the 2022 NSC Congress & Expo.
The Top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations in the workplace for FY 2022 are:
|Type||Number of Violations|
|1. Fall Protection (General)||5,260|
|2. Hazard Communication||2,424|
|3. Respiratory Protection||2,185|
|6. Control of Hazardous Energy
|7. Powered Industrial Trucks||1,749|
|8. Fall Protection (Training)||1,556|
|9. Personal Protective Equipment||1,401|
|10. Machine Guarding||1,370|
This list represents citations across all industries resulting from worksite inspections by federal OSHA agents. The purpose of OSHA reporting this list year after year is to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards before preventable injuries, illnesses, and deaths occur.
Let’s take a deeper look into why the top citations occur and what trends have emerged in recent years to help expose where the focus needs to be to keep workers safe.
Fall Protection Doesn’t Fall from Number 1
Fall protection still holds the #1 violation slot at 5,260 citations—down only 35 violations from 2021. From 2011–2021 the number of falls has increased according to OSHA inspection activity, making this year’s decline the first sign of a very welcome downward trend.
Falls are also the leading cause of death among construction workers which is why this continues to be a top priority for OSHA inspectors and a top priority in any safety training plan.
Although those in the industry are making strides in addressing fall safety, history shows that many of the interventions that could be used to prevent falls are either not in place or are not used correctly. The most common OSHA citations for fall-related violations are:
- Fall protection (29 CFR 1926.501)
- Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451)
- Use of ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053)
- Fall protection training (29 CFR 1926.503)
Not only does Fall Protection (General) hit the top of the list each year, additionally Ladders, Scaffolding, and Fall Protection Training are seen year after year amongst the most cited violations—making fall-related violations almost 50% of this year’s list!
That is why it continues to be important that workers who could be exposed to fall hazards go through training to be able to better detect hazards, use PPE properly, and put fall protection systems into place where they are needed.
Hazard Communication Jumps Up to #2
Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) violations make a 20% jump from #5 with 1,947 citations in 2021 to #2 with 2,424 so far in 2022.
The majority of these violations happen because of the complexity and paperwork involved in compliance.
Organizations may receive a citation for failing to:
- Label their chemical containers properly
- Leave certain substances off their chemical inventory lists
- Neglect to obtain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from manufacturers
- Maintain a hazard communication plan
- Include necessary information in the written plan
Sometimes, gaps in training can also lead to violations. If all workers have not been trained or if the training courses are incomplete or out of date, the organization can expect trouble from OSHA.
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OSHA Continues to Focus on Priorities
With 1,850 federal and state OSHA inspectors, there is approximately one inspector for every 70,000 U.S. workers. Additionally, in recent years the number of total OSHA inspections has dropped about 33% due in part to the COVID-19 global pandemic.*
Without more oversight, there is a need to prioritize violations by their severity to keep most workers safe. OSHA's top priorities for inspections are:
- Impending danger - a situation where workers face an immediate risk of death or serious injury
- A fatality or catastrophe - an accident that requires hospitalization of three or more workers
- Third priority is employee complaints and referrals
In FY 2021, OSHA conducted 24,333 inspections, 57%, or 12,749, of which were unprogrammed. This includes employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals according to OSHA’s 2021 enforcement summary.
Leaving the remaining 43% of inspections, or 10,584, as programmed inspections that focused OSHA’s enforcement resources on industries and operations where known hazards exist (e.g., COVID-19, respirable silica, combustible dusts, chemical processing, ship-breaking, and falls in construction).*
In the Top 10 Violations data published through September 2022, it seems that there may be an upward trend in the total number inspections as we have already surpassed the total for 2021. We will have to wait for final numbers to see if the types of inspections held vary at all post-pandemic.
OSHA Touts Their Trends
According to OSHA’s website, in roughly half a century, OSHA along with state partners, have had a powerful effect on workplace safety. Worker deaths in America are down—on average, from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2020. Worker injuries and illnesses are down—from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.7 per 100 in 2020.
Let’s hope that with continued training, compliance, and vigilance we can all help to keep reducing the number of citations, incidents, and deaths in years to come.
*United States Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Enforcement. (2021). Retrieved November 23, 2022, from https://www.osha.gov/enforcement/2021-enforcement-summary