Examining the Most Common OSHA Violations and How to Avoid Them

Examining the Most Common OSHA Violations and How to Avoid Them

OSHA violations, in the popular mind, are a damning indictment of the company, a scarlet letter that indicates that the company has a complete disregard for employee safety. In reality, the most common OSHA violations are relatively minor or issues that raise risks for employees but are not outright dangerous. That said, OSHA violation fines spiked 80% in the final years of the Obama administration, so it is costly to receive even a minor one. OSHA violations can have a huge impact on the workplace which is why OSHA safety inspections are put into action to reduce risks. Let’s look at what constitute the most common OSHA violations, as well as how to avoid them in your own workplace.

Fall Protection

Fall protection refers to the safety procedures, equipment, and structural solutions to prevent people from falling to their deaths. Falls have been the top cause of fatal workplace accidents most years since 2010 and they cause many serious though non-fatal accidents per year. This is why it’s important to have fall protection. Employers receive violations if they don’t implement proper safety measures like stair railings and safety nets. They are fined if they don’t provide the necessary personal protective equipment, ensure that employees know how to use it before going up, and monitor its usage to make sure employees aren’t taking shortcuts at the expense of safety.


The second most common source of OSHA violations is due to scaffolding. Ladder accidents are less common than scaffolding violations but are the fifth most common OSHA violation. Ladder violations are less common than scaffolding violations because OSHA safety inspections are more likely to see scaffolds for the time they are up versus the typically temporary use of ladders.

Hazard Communication

Hazard communications or the relative lack thereof is the third most common source of OSHA violations. Failing to have the necessary safety signs and labels on chemicals themselves is one issue. Not having material safety data sheets for exposed workers is another. Failing to train people in how to use chemicals properly or failing to provide the right type of protective safety equipment for the hazards they face is yet another. The downside of a diverse workplace is the growth of the workforce that doesn’t speak English, so failing to have training sessions or written warnings in languages these individuals understand can lead to OSHA violations. One reason why the hazard communications violations are so common is that they are so easy to spot during OSHA safety inspections.

Lock Out Tag Out

Lock-out-tag-out or LOTO refers to the procedures to power down equipment and lock it so that no one can accidentally activate it. LOTO procedures should be implemented during all repairs – and any time equipment is malfunctioning and poses a risk to others during operation.

Ensure that employees don’t skip the lockout procedures when working on equipment, in an effort to complete repairs faster.


Now that you know what the most common OSHA violations are, you must do everything to protect your employees and yourself from any safety hazard. This will allow you to keep a healthy and active workforce and protect you from potential litigation.

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