10 Most-Cited Safety Violations and 5 Ways to Avoid Them

A shock, a fall, a burn; these represent a small number of the injuries possible in day-to-day life. Without proper precautions, these injuries and more can happen to employees in the workplace. When these accidents happen, employees suffer work-related injuries, and your company faces the risk of medical bills and lawsuits. Things do happen, but these situations are almost always preventable.

Common OSHA Violations

Employee injury can happen in dozens of ways, but it only takes a few small measures and a little bit of training to minimize employee injury and maximize efficiency. Today’s contribution to Safety Week is an examination of safety violations. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, has released 2013’s most cited safety standards:

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

According to OSHA, fall protection has continuously been the most cited standard and the top four citations remain the same as those of past years. In fact, these top ten cited standards have remained the same since 2011, with minor changes in ranking.

Despite the ranking of these workplace safety citations staying incredibly similar, the actual number of citations have jumped in past years. The tenth most cited safety standard, Machine Guarding, has 1,369 more citations than the tenth from the previous year, and was cited more than the fourth ranking standard in 2012. OSHA’s data is telling us that something needs to change.


While employee injuries are most common in construction, representing three of the top ten citations, injury also plagues businesses of all kinds. The good news is these injuries are easy to avoid using a few simple steps. We can follow the top ten most cited safety violations with the top five most effective ways to avoid them.

  1. Schedule regular training
  2. Put formal safety policies and procedures in place
  3. Communicate expectations to employees
  4. Perform regular inspections
  5. Provide the necessary tools to problem solve

If you’ve ever sat through a day of training, you know that it can be near-impossible to remember everything you learned. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with new information and forget something important.

To prevent employees from suffering the “in one ear, out the other” phenomena, your company should provide regular reminders of safety regulations and expectations, as well as administer periodic training over a longer period of time. In fact, it has been psychologically proven information taught in a shorter period of time (say a 30-minute training video instead of a two-hour training session), then revisited at increments in the future, is more likely to be remembered.

You will hear different secrets to safety, ranging from awareness to discipline to monitoring, but the true secret to successful work safety is to train, train, train your employees. A well-trained employee will save you many a headache in the future, and a safe work environment can optimize employee efficiency and save your company from unnecessary bills, courts, and hiring.

If you work in construction, be sure to take the Fall Injury Reduction course; for all other safety topics check out our extensive OSHA library.

Image Credit: aussiegal via flickr