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Fall protection remains most frequently cited OSHA violation

SAN DIEGO — Fall protection remained the mostly cited violation by the U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration in fiscal year 2019, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo.

All of the top 10 most cited hazards from fiscal year 2018 were repeated in 2019 in the same positions with the exception of respiratory protection and lockout/tagout violations, which swapped places on the 2019 list.

Although the number of fall protection violations dropped from 7,270 in 2018 to 6,010 in 2019, fall protection has remained the top cited safety violation since 2010.  

“We are seeing fall protection not provided where you have unprotected sides or edges,” said Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, who presented the Top 10 on the Expo floor to safety professionals. “Obviously falls are one of the focus areas that we are trying to minimize.”

Lack of fall protection training also remained on the list in the number 8 spot, due to employees not being provided with training on how to protect themselves from fall hazards and a lack of written certification of training being retained by employers, he said.

Inadequate fall protection training also remains an issue, said Mr. Kapust. “Employers aren’t doing retraining when an employee has not retained … the appropriate knowledge,” he said.

Hazard communication, which was the second most cited violation again in 2019, remains a constant problem because many companies still do not have a hazard communication program, he said.

“How long has the standard been around?” said Mr. Kapust. “A lack of existence of a program is what we’re still finding.”

The complete top 10 list of OSHA violations for fiscal year 2019 includes:

1. Fall protection: 6,010 violations.

2. Hazard communication: 3,671 violations.

3. Scaffolding: 2,813 violations.

4. Lockout/tagout: 2,606 violations.

5. Respiratory protection: 2,450 violations.

6. Ladders: 2,345 violations.

7. Powered industrial trucks: 2,093 violations.

8. Fall protection training requirements: 1,773 violations

9. Machine guarding: 1,743 violations.

10. Eye and face protection: 1,411 violations.