OSHA Releases Ten Most Cited Violations for FY 2020

Fiscal year 2020 was a complicated year for workplace safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released its list of the ten most frequently cited workplace safety standard violations in the fiscal year 2020. The data included citations occurring between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s directorate of enforcement programs, presented this during an exclusive webinar hosted by the National Safety Commission (NSC).

“Use the top ten as a guide for your workplace,” said Kapust. “It’s a good place to start if you don’t know where to start. Look at what OSHA is fining, look at the things that are applicable to your specific industry.”

While the ten specific violations remained unchanged from FY 2019 to FY 2020, their order shifted. Ladder violations moved into the top five. Unsurprisingly given the pandemic, respiratory protection climbed into the third spot after coming in fifth the year before. Fall Protection — General Requirements topped the list for the tenth consecutive year.

“In a year that was defined by the ongoing pandemic, workplace safety became more important than ever,” said Lorraine Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Commission.

“The OSHA Top 10 list reminds us why we must continue to focus on persistent safety risks as we navigate new challenges. These data help us pinpoint areas where we can improve so we can better prioritize workplace safety in the future world of work.”

Here’s the full list:

  1. Fall Protection — General Requirements: 5,424 violations;
  2. Hazard Communication: 3,199;
  3. Respiratory Protection: 2,649;
  4. Scaffolding: 2,538;
  5. Ladders: 2,129;
  6. Lockout/Tagout: 2,065;
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks: 1,932;
  8. Fall Protection — Training Requirements; 1,621;
  9. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment — Eye and Face Protection: 1,369;
  10. Machine Guarding: 1,313 violations.

OSHA has recently drawn criticism for how it handled inspections during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent audit by the Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that while OSHA received more complaints in 2020 than in 2019, the number of inspections performed by the agency was half that of the previous year.

“The OIG found both an increased number of safety and health complaints received last year and a reduced number of inspections,” the report said. “The audit also determined that most inspections were not performed on-site, reducing person-to-person contact for OSHA compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) but resulting in greater worker safety risks.”

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