Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspects thousands of workplaces and issues citations to those facilities that violate safety standards. What made 2020 a bit more of a challenge to OSHA was the global coronavirus fight, which is ongoing. The need for social distancing, sanitation, and other protocols shifted OSHA's focus to a new problem in workplaces. OSHA typically reveals its preliminary list of the top 10 most frequently violated standards annually through the National Safety Council, an organization that helps workers and workplaces prevent unnecessary injuries and illnesses. This list is meant to alert employers about these violations of established standards and encourage everyone to take the necessary steps to address these hazards in their workplaces.
The number of OSHA-investigated violations vary each year. In response, safety officials say the list is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to educate workplaces and workers.
"In a year that was defined by the ongoing pandemic, workplace safety became more important than ever," said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. "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 is the list for 2020 as per NSC:
- Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501), with 5,424 violations
- Hazard Communication (1910.1200), with 3,199 violations
- Respiratory Protection (1910.134), with 2,649 violations
- Scaffolding (1926.451), with 2,538 violations
- Ladders (1926.1053), with 2,129 violations
- Lockout/Tagout (1910.147), with 2,065 violations
- Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178), with 1,932 violations
- Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503), with 1,621 violations
- Eye and Face Protection (1926.102), with 1,369 violations
- Machine Guarding (1910.212), with 1,313 violations
While fall protection general requirements remained at No. 1, lockout/tagout moved from No. 5 to No. 6, and respiratory protection moved up to No. 3. Also, eye and face protection violations moved from No. 10 to No. 9.
“Look at your own workplace and see where you can find solutions,” OSHA's Directorate of Enforcement Programs Patrick Kapust said. “These are common violations. They’ve been around for a while. The answers are out there.”
OSHA inspects workplaces routinely to ensure employers follow regulations and provide a safe workplace. The federal agency also has a Voluntary Protection Program that helps workplaces improve safety and strengthen their training and hazard prevention programs. Workplaces can easily follow OSHA requirements for safety signs and labels using trusted professional resources. The benefits of compliance include saving money, ensuring a safe workplace, and boosting overall employee morale. Employers can address compliance issues by utilizing workplace safety and education tools that help businesses properly communicate hazards, risks, and warnings.