The following text provides an overview of the top five OSHA citation categories and the top five highest fines in each category. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency responsible for ensuring employers provide their employees a safe and healthy working environment. This article aims to help employers and safety professionals understand the most common OSHA violations and associated fines, allowing them to prioritize safety measures and avoid costly penalties.
This article discusses the top five OSHA citation categories and the top five highest fines in each category. OSHA is responsible for ensuring employers provide their employees with a safe and healthy working environment and enforces safety regulations by conducting inspections and issuing citations to violators. The top five OSHA citation categories are fall protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, respiratory protection, and lockout/tagout. By understanding these categories and their associated fines, employers can prioritize safety measures and avoid costly penalties. Fall protection is the most cited OSHA violation, with 5,424 citations issued in 2020, resulting in $23.7 million in fines. Hazard Communication violations are the second most cited, with 3,199 citations issued in 2020, resulting in $9.5 million in fines. Scaffolding violations are the third most cited, with 2,538 citations issued in 2020, resulting in $10.1 million in fines. Respiratory protection and lockout/tagout violations round out the top five, with 2,649 and 2,129 citations issued in 2020, resulting in $5.4 million and $3.7 million in fines, respectively. The highest fines in each category ranged from $1,215,000 for a lockout/tagout violation to $5,682,000 for a Hazard Communication violation. Employers must ensure compliance with safety regulations to avoid significant fines and penalties.
OSHA enforces safety regulations by conducting inspections and issuing citations to employers who violate safety standards. OSHA conducts thousands of inspections annually and issues citations to employers who violate safety regulations. This article will discuss the top five OSHA citation categories and the top five highest fines in each category. Understanding these categories and their associated fines can help employers prioritize safety measures and avoid costly penalties.
Top 5 OSHA Citation Categories
Fall protection is the most cited OSHA violation and has been at the top of the list for several years. Falls are a leading cause of death in the workplace, and employers are required to provide fall protection to employees working at heights of six feet or more. 2020, OSHA issued 5,424 citations for fall protection violations, resulting in $23.7 million in fines. The most common violations in this category include failing to provide fall protection equipment, inadequate training on the use of fall protection equipment, and failure to inspect and maintain fall protection equipment properly.
Hazard Communication (HazCom) violations are the second most cited OSHA violations. HazCom violations occur when employers fail to communicate chemical hazards to their employees adequately. In 2020, OSHA issued 3,199 citations for Hazard Communication violations, resulting in $9.5 million in fines. Violations include failure to label hazardous chemicals, inadequate safety data sheets, and failure to train employees on the safe use of hazardous chemicals.
Scaffolding violations are the third most cited OSHA violation. Construction uses scaffolding to provide workers with a platform to work at elevated heights. In 2020, OSHA issued 2,538 citations for Scaffolding violations, resulting in $10.1 million in fines. Common scaffolding violations include failure to erect and dismantle scaffolding properly, inadequate support for scaffolding, and failure to ensure proper use of personal fall arrest systems.
Respiratory protection violations are the fourth most cited OSHA violation. Employers must provide respiratory protection to employees who work in environments with airborne contaminants. In 2020, OSHA issued 2,649 citations for Respiratory Protection violations, resulting in $5.4 million in fines. Common respiratory protection violations include failure to conduct proper fit tests for respirators, inadequate medical evaluations for employees required to wear respirators, and failure to train employees on the proper use of respirators.
Lockout/Tagout violations are the fifth most cited OSHA violations. Lockout/Tagout procedures ensure equipment is properly shut down and de-energized before maintenance or repair work. Common lockout/tagout violations include failure to properly lockout/tagout equipment, inadequate training on lockout/tagout procedures, and failure to ensure the proper equipment is used for lockout/tagout procedures.
Top 5 Highest Fines in Each Category
The highest fine for a fall protection violation in 2020 was issued to a roofing contractor in Florida, resulting in a $1,523,710 penalty. The violation occurred when the employer failed to provide fall protection for employees working on a roof. Employees were working at heights of 10 feet or more.
The highest OSHA fine for a HazCom violation was $5,682,000, issued to a chemical manufacturer in New Jersey for multiple violations related to handling hazardous chemicals.
The highest OSHA fine for a scaffolding violation was $1,813,640, issued to a roofing company in Florida for exposing workers to fall hazards while working on a roof without proper scaffolding.
The highest OSHA fine for a respiratory protection violation was $3,929,000, issued to a manufacturer of welding supplies in Ohio for exposing employees to respiratory hazards and failing to provide adequate respiratory protection.
The highest OSHA fine for a lockout/tagout violation was $1,215,000, issued to a manufacturer of aluminum products in Ohio for failing to ensure that proper lockout/tagout procedures were followed during maintenance and repair work.
OSHA citations and fines can significantly impact businesses. Employers need to understand the top OSHA citation categories and take steps to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2021). Top 10 most frequently cited standards. https://www.osha.gov/data/commonstats
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2021). Severe violator enforcement program. https://www.osha.gov/enforcement/severe-violator-enforcement-program
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2021). OSHA penalty adjustment for inflation. https://www.osha.gov/penalties/InflationAdjustment2021.pdf
Anderson, A. (2020, December 7). OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations in 2020. Safety+Health Magazine. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/20652-oshas-top-10-most-cited-violations-in-2020
Lamothe, J. (2021, February 16). The 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards of 2020. EHS Today. https://www.ehstoday.com/safety-leadership/article/21149921/the-10-most-frequently-cited-osha-standards-of-2020
Safety Management Group. (2021, March 29). The top 10 OSHA violations of 2020. https://safetymanagementgroup.com/the-top-10-osha-violations-of-2020/
National Safety Council. (2021). The OSHA top 10: Understanding the most frequently cited OSHA standards. https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/tools-resources/injury-facts/infographics/osha-top-10-most-frequently-cited-violations
Safety+Health Magazine. (2021). OSHA fines: Top 10 biggest. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/21548-osha-fines-top-10-biggest
OSHA. (2021). OSHA’s most severe enforcement actions. https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/severe-violator-enforcement-program
EHS Today. (2021). The top 10 OSHA fines of 2020. https://www.ehstoday.com/safety-leadership/article/21149847/the-top-10-osha-fines-of-2020