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Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety



Read this article in Spanish. Lee este artículo en español.   a worker climbs a piece of scaffolding wearing proper fall protection

Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff. One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.

Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and our top 10 list features lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about these measures. Employers must take these issues seriously. We also see far too many workers killed or gruesomely injured when machinery starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts.

Lockout/tagout and machine guarding violations are often the culprit here. Proper lockout/tagout procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them. And installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse.

Respiratory protection is essential for preventing long term and sometimes fatal health problems associated with breathing in asbestos, silica or a host of other toxic substances. But we can see from our list of violations that not nearly enough employers are providing this needed protection and training.

The high number of fatalities associated with forklifts, and high number of violations for powered industrial truck safety, tell us that many workers are not being properly trained to safely drive these kinds of potentially hazardous equipment. Rounding out the top 10 list are violations related to electrical safety, an area where the dangers are well-known.

Our list of top violations is far from comprehensive. OSHA regulations cover a wide range of hazards, all of which imperil worker health and safety. And we urge employers to go beyond the minimal requirements to create a culture of safety at work, which has been shown to reduce costs, raise productivity and improve morale. To help them, we have released new recommendations for creating a safety and health program at their workplaces. We have many additional resources, including a wealth of information on our website and our free and confidential On-site Consultation Program. But tackling the most common hazards is a good place to start saving workers’ lives and limbs.

Thomas Galassi is the director of enforcement programs for OSHA.  

Las 10 Violaciones Tope de OSHA en 2016


Por Thomas Galassi a worker climbs a piece of scaffolding wearing proper fall protection

La Administración de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional del Departamento de Trabajo publica cada mes de octubre la lista preliminar de las 10 violaciones de seguridad y salud más frecuentemente citadas durante el año fiscal sobre la base de casi 32.000 inspecciones de lugares de trabajo realizadas por parte del personal federal de OSHA. Algo sorprendente es que la lista rara vez cambia. Año tras año nuestros inspectores ven miles de los mismos peligros que pueden resultar en muerte o en lesión grave. A pesar de que por ley los empleadores son responsables de proporcionar espacios seguros y saludables para sus trabajadores, cada año mueren más de 4.500 trabajadores, y aproximadamente tres millones sufren lesiones. Estamos seguros de que el número de muertes, amputaciones y hospitalizaciones se reduciría drásticamente si todos los empleadores sencillamente corrigiesen los 10 riesgos principales. Considere esta lista como punto de partida para la seguridad laboral:

  1. Protección contra caídas
  2. Comunicación de peligros
  3. Andamios
  4. Protección respiratoria
  5. Bloqueo y etiquetado
  6. Vehículos industriales
  7. Escaleras
  8. Protectores para máquinas
  9. Cableado eléctrico
  10. Requisitos eléctricos y generales

No es coincidencia que las caídas sean una de las principales causas de muerte entre trabajadores, particularmente en construcción, y que en  nuestra lista de las 10 violaciones tope aparezcan la falta de protección contra caídas así como cuestiones de seguridad relacionadas con escaleras y andamios. Sabemos cómo proteger a los trabajadores contra caídas, y tenemos en marcha una campaña permanente para informar a empleadores y trabajadores acerca de las medidas a tomar. Los empleadores deben abordar seriamente estas cuestiones. También vemos demasiados trabajadores muertos o heridos horriblemente cuando repentinamente las máquinas se ponen en marcha mientras se están reparando, o cuando manos y dedos quedan expuestos a sus elementos móviles. Al respecto, las violaciones culpables son comúnmente las relativas a los sistemas de bloqueo y al etiquetado. Los procedimientos apropiados de bloqueo y etiquetado garantizan que las máquinas permanezcan apagadas y no se puedan encender mientras alguien está trabajando en ellas. E instalar protectores de máquinas para mantener manos, pies y otras partes lejos de maquinaria en movimiento evita amputaciones y otras calamidades aún peores. La protección respiratoria es esencial para prevenir problemas de salud duraderos y a veces potencialmente mortales asociados a la inhalación de amianto, sílice y toda una serie de sustancias tóxicas. Pero podemos ver por nuestra lista de violaciones que definitivamente no suficientes empleadores están ofreciendo ni protección adecuada ni el necesario entrenamiento. El elevado número de muertes asociadas con carretillas elevadoras, y el alto número de infracciones relacionadas con la seguridad de vehículos industriales motorizados son indicativos de que muchos trabajadores no están siendo debidamente capacitados para manejar con seguridad este tipo de equipos potencialmente peligrosos. Completando la lista de las 10 violaciones tope destacan las relacionadas con la seguridad eléctrica, un área donde los peligros son de sobra conocidos. Nuestra lista de las principales infracciones está lejos de ser completa. Las regulaciones de OSHA cubren una amplia gama de peligros, todos los cuales ponen en riesgo la salud y la seguridad de los trabajadores. Hacemos un llamado a los empleadores para que vayan más allá de los requisitos mínimos exigidos de manera que contribuyan decididamente a crear una cultura de seguridad laboral que ha demostrado su capacidad en reducir costos, aumentar la productividad y mejorar la moral. Para ayudarles, hemos publicado nuevas recomendaciones para la creación de un programa de salud y seguridad en sus propios lugares de trabajo. Tenemos muchos recursos adicionales, incluyendo una gran cantidad de información en nuestra página web y nuestro programa de consulta gratuita y confidencial in situ. Pero la lucha contra los peligros más comunes es un buen lugar para empezar a salvar las vidas y extremidades de los trabajadores.

Thomas Galassi es director de los programas de OSHA para el cumplimiento.


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I'd like to see a list of the top 10 companies cited for violations

In reply to by Gabriella (not verified)

I second that!

For the most part employers are motivated and encourage safety, however employees continue to not follow procedure and safe practices and employees often have to pay for employees stupidity and lack of commitment to safety. This day and time, employees can report any companies that violate work place policies without consequences but chose not to do so. There are now so many "rule and regulations" that it impedes safely, resulting in loss of focus on the hazards in the work place. Employees are no longer committed to or have any loyalty to company anymore. This results in accepting the fact that 15 - 17 (2 per hour) will die in the work place each day and there will be 12,000 injuries per day. (25 injuries per minute).

In reply to by J.R. Mathis CSHO (not verified)

I understand your complaint, but you fail to objectify safety and are playing the same "blame" game as do most management and corporation leaders. You are the workers' advocate yet cite employees as the causation. It has been proven in study after study that ambivalence on the part of the company and management, (as well as bad safety management programs,) directly correlates to the workers' norms. (Cavazza/Serpe) If the company truly advocates 'safety' culture and treats the safety process as a profitable metric assessment instead of the "blame" game, the employee will adopt the accessible, positive and proactive safety culture. It starts from the top-down and until implementation of a proactive preventative safety program, instead of a structure of for profit management of employees, you will never see the benefits of positive safety culture. I have experienced poor, mediocre and best practices in safety culture. Go be a 'worker' for awhile...

Be advised to always carry your pocket electrical tester to identify hot circuits.
This is America ....... Learn the language. Makes me mad my tax dollars are spent to produce Spanish documents for all the boarder jumpers taking jobs from English speaking citizens.

In reply to by Donald Trump (not verified)

Really? When you've deported all the immigrants, who will pick the fruits and vegetables? We'll all likely to starve as Americans will refuse to work under the conditions that they do. Where is your heart when it comes to Mexican immigrants and the benefit they provide us. Are you stupid or just heartless?

Thank you Jo! Thi is exactly my thoughts! Although I actually grew up picking right along side the mexicans, there is no way I would accept only $3 an hour for that kind of work. So by exporting illegal mexicans, the price of good farmed vegetables is going to jump significantly

If I moved to Mexico I would be sure to learn the language beforehand. I'm pretty sure the Mexican Govt doesn't provide documents in english the way this country does. By the way I am not a racist and am VERY EMBARRASSED by some of the things my fellow countrymen have said but much of it is correct. Mexico's problems are of their own making and they should stay and correct them -- TOUGH LOVE, but It's easier to sneak across the border than it is to apply for a visa and the illegals are criminals just by their presence and those who employ them ARE accomplices.

In reply to by Donald Trump (not verified)

What tax dollars? You didn't pay any.

In reply to by Donald Trump (not verified)

..."for all the boarder jumpers"... Learn the language indeed...or learn to use spell check at least

In reply to by Donald Trump (not verified)

Learn how to use spell check!!

In reply to by Donald Trump (not verified)

I completely second that Mr President!

Fall protection is constantly the number one tasks I see on these list even though OSHA has produced so many resources. We ended up getting a fall protection program for our company from so that we can make sure our guy were trained. has a lot of great resources for free but sometimes it can be hard to navigate.

In reply to by Mike the Const… (not verified)

Thanks for the link Mike

As a Safety Trainer just getting the word out helps but it isn't the cure. Our company does safety training, job site inspections and writes safety manuals. I deal with a lot of employees of sub contractors who I have to remind daily to wear fall protection, safety glasses, put up safety rails. They guys get paid for by the piece not the hour in most cases so they want to be fast not safe. Training is a start and reinforcement is another key as if the supervisors don't support safety then the workers wont either
You can find plenty of PDF, and PPT's pertaining to this subject matter all over the internet.
It would seem that some employers need more motivation for prevention such as criminal prosecutions for repeat and or serious outcomes for example.
I would like to see more safety material/topics/information in this format (English/Spanish) in the future. Thank you!
I would rather see a list if injuries and what standards exactly were violated or compramized that lead to the most injuries. This is a list that seldom changes for a reason.

In reply to by Jujuray (not verified)

Go on osha's website look up your naic code. It will tell you exactly what citation were commonly sited in the last year including number of times. It even list how many times 5a1 (general duty clause) was cited
State and local government employees are not covered by any health and safety laws or rules since Jeb repealed the health and safety laws, part of the Work Comp law and in the law since 1936. Also, the cost of safety was paid for by a premium tax and not by tax revenue.
I'd like see a list of top injuries on job and corresponding standards that were compromised. I doubt it would correlate with the top OSHA citations.
What are the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations from inspections of Public Sector (Federal, State, and City workers) workplaces by federal OSHA staff? I agree with Greg Siwinski's comment, too, BUT add that the public sector employers need to be mandated and regulated by Federal or State agencies, like: OSHA and DOT, so their employees' safety is addressed. When was the last time a City was fined or publically inspected / audited following a fatality, like all private industry companies are to assure a Safety Management System was in place and compliant?
It would be helpful to see specific categories of injuries/safety violations recorded for powered industrial trucks, especially forklift trucks.
Thank you for the article. Although it is important to know what the list of most cited items are, I would also like to know "why" and "what violations" led up to the actual citations. For instance, fall protection could mean work platform exposures, inadequate guard railing, personal fall arrest systems donned or used incorrectly, or not providing it at all. It could also be occurring more on construction cites than in general industry. I wish OSHA would not only publish a more detailed description (I am referring to the final version not this preliminary one) and in accordance with that, offer training materials and courses to help educate employers on where they could be missing the mark. Rarely does pointing out a problem result in a change in behavior, but identifying a solution to a failing process can bring about a positive change.
Same ol' same ol'. It's almost like a broken record from year to year to year . . .
I'm curious how many of the citations are for actually injuries versus paperwork violations. (Finger cut off due to not locking out machine or even no LOTO procedure vs company had no LOTO procedure) I'm guessing that when OSHA is called in it is after an accident. Are the most of the citations from that specific incident or piled on from other findings during the inspection after the accident?
Employees only follow orders, the mayorita of the time Foremen, Supervisiors, in other words persons in charge disregard Safety to complete a task. We all pay a price in higher insurance priemuims, some companies even go under for lack of work, because they have a bad Safety record. Its easy to blame the worker, my experiance tells me that if you train and inform the employee correctly, you will cut down in accidents, shortcut is the # one cause of accidents and that is what upper management take. the employee is only a tool for them.
Though the list may be helpful and a company may check off as having the required programs the list is not specific enough to draw any conclusions that the program is correct or administered correctly for what the inspectors are inspecting. The non-specifics would be enough to keep EHS coordinators busy for months without correcting any actual problems.

When I filed my complaint with OSHA, the state level fell into the company's manipulation to try and minimize how bad things were. I have dealt with the company's retaliation since then. Appearance wise it looks like the company paid OSHA off. My efforts to make my employer come from being 30 years behind the rest of the industry in regards to safety, seems like they have only advanced a few months.

OSHA takes every safety and health complaint seriously. A worker has a right to file a complaint with OSHA and it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker for filing a complaint. If you believe you have been retaliated against for exercising your rights, you may file a whistleblower complaint at

As expected the major cause for deaths every year is due to falls from construction and repairs. Health and safety for workers should be taken seriously by the employers. Every company should have a strong workplace policy and responsible person who should make sure that the policy is implemented. We too should have a very strong health and safety act just like UK


Like so many of the before mentioned articles why aren't the company names of the violator made public. You say there are 10 companies but you will not name them sound a little strange