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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations list for fiscal year 2023: Are you at risk?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced its most frequently cited workplace safety standards for fiscal year 2023. CDMS believes it is important for each employer to review the list annually and if need be, take action at their facility to decrease accidents and reduce potential violation penalties. 


If we already do periodic site visits to your facility as a part of our compliance management service, our project managers routinely check your operations against these, and other standards and send a post visit report with their findings.  


If you would like a free EHS compliance assessment, or specialized help enhancing your facility’s safety, contact us at We look forward to assisting you. 


Additionally, if you want to know how CDMS can help you stay in compliance with OSHA regulations, please visit our Comprehensive Safety Compliance Management section.  


1. Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501)

There were over 7,000 violations of this standard requiring fall protection for workers at heights above 6 feet. This has been the number one violation for years. Key issues cited include lack of fall protection systems in residential building construction and failure to protect workers on unprotected edges and roofs.  


OSHA Definition: This standard outlines requirements to protect workers from falls when working at heights of 6 feet or more. This includes use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems, positioning device systems, and more.   


Why it Happens: Falls often occur when workers are not properly protected while working on roofs, ladders, scaffolds, and other elevations. Lack of training and lack of proper fall protection equipment also contribute. 


Signs You’re at Risk: Working at heights 6 feet or above without adequate fall protection, lack of training on fall hazards/protection, observed unsafe behaviors when working at heights.    


Prevention Checklist: 

– Are workers properly trained on fall hazards and protection methods?   

– Is fall protection provided everywhere at elevations of 6 feet and above?  

– Are workers actively using appropriate fall protection gear and systems? 

– Are guardrails, nets, harnesses inspected regularly and in good condition? 

– Is fall protection equipment readily available and easily accessible?   

– Is there a rescue plan in place for workers after a fall occurs? 


2. Hazard Communication (29 CFR 1910.1200) 

Over 3,200 violations for lacking complete written programs, worker training, safety data sheets, and proper labeling of chemical containers. Manufacturing and construction industries saw high numbers of citations. 


OSHA Definition: Requires employers to inform workers of chemical hazards through safety data sheets, labels, training, and access to written programs. Helps workers take precautions when using chemicals. 


Why it Happens: Failure to properly label chemical containers, lack of safety data sheets for chemicals, not enough worker training on chemical risks/precautions, poor hazard communication programs.   


Signs You’re at Risk: Unlabeled chemical containers, lack of access to safety data sheets, workers demonstrate lack of chemical hazard knowledge. 


Prevention Checklist: 

– Is there a written hazard communication program that meets OSHA requirements?    

– Are all chemical containers properly labeled? 

– Are safety data sheets available for every chemical on site?   

– Have all workers received training on chemical hazards?   

– Is worker comprehension of chemical risks and precautions regularly verified? 

– Is the hazard communication program reviewed at least annually? 


3. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053)

Nearly 3,000 violations cited, primarily for portable ladders not extending 3 feet above landing surfaces and improper ladder use, positioning, load handling, and lack of inspection.  


OSHA Definition: Outlines safety requirements when portable, fixed, mobile ladder/stairways used to access elevations. Includes inspection, proper setup, ladder types, training, and more.   


Why it Happens: Ladder hazards like slipping, sliding, tipping and loss of balance. Also, failure to secure, improper positioning, using defectives ladders, lack of training, and exceeding weight limits. 


Signs You’re at Risk: Ladders not regularly inspected, lack of training, not used per manufacturer, slippery conditions, over-reaching/overloading, observation of unsafe behaviors. 


Prevention Checklist: 

– Are ladders inspected before each use for defects? 

– Are ladders properly secured, placed on stable base, at correct angles?    

– Are workers trained on how to correctly set up, use and inspect ladders?  

– Are weight/height limits for ladders followed?    

– Are ladders kept free of slippery substances like oil, grease? 

– Are both hands free for climbing up/down ladders? 

– Are ladder safety warnings still readable? 



4. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451)

Almost 2,900 violations for lack of fall protection, guardrails, and safe access on scaffolds above 10 feet tall. Masonry contractors and roofing contractors frequent violators. 


OSHA Definition: Outlines criteria to protect workers from scaffold collapse, falling objects, falls from scaffold platforms and more in construction. Includes design, capacity, planking, access, training and inspections. 


Why it Happens: Failure to fully plank work platforms, lack of guardrails and fall protection, poor footing supports, defective components, overloading scaffolds beyond intended capacity or design, lack of inspections and training.   


Signs You’re at Risk::** Scaffolds missing guardrails, planks, or with noted defects. Lack of training program/competent persons. Overloading scaffolds or using on uneven ground.   


Prevention Checklist: 

– Is scaffolding inspected before each shift?   

– Are scaffolds fully planked with guardrails and access points?  

– Are workers properly trained on scaffold assembly and hazards? 

– Are scaffolds secured from shifting or sudden movement? 

– Is scaffold load capacity known and posted for workers? 

– Are competent persons overseeing scaffold assembly and use?   


5. Powered Industrial Trucks (29 CFR 1910.178)

Over 2,500 violations for inadequate operator training/certification, inspections and improper truck operation, maintenance and refueling procedures. Warehouses and manufacturing facilities top violators. 


OSHA Definition: Contains training requirements and safe operating practices for forklifts/powered industrial trucks used to lift, move, or position materials. Includes inspection criteria, refueling rules, and operator training mandates.   


Why it Happens: Lack of operator training/certification, not following safe operating procedures defined by OSHA, failure to inspect equipment, improper refueling techniques, unauthorized riders on trucks.  


Signs You’re at Risk: Untrained operators observed, lacking pre-operation check protocols, carrying unauthorized passengers, refueling trucks incorrectly. 


Prevention Checklist: 

– Are powered industrial truck operators properly trained and certified? 

– Are industrial trucks inspected before operation each shift?   

– Are refueling procedures compliant with OSHA standards? 

– Are operators following safe driving and load handling rules? 

– Are pedestrian walkways clearly marked in areas trucks operate?   

– Is unauthorized riding prohibited on powered industrial trucks? 


6. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) (29 CFR 1910.147)

Approximately 2,500 cases cited for lacking energy control procedures, worker training, annual inspections, and overall lockout/tagout programs. Manufacturing industry is hit the hardest. 


OSHA Definition: Requires procedures to disable machinery/equipment and prevent release of hazardous stored energy while maintenance or servicing activities are performed. Includes energy control plans, lockout/tagout devices, and employee training. 


Why it Happens: No energy control or isolation procedures established for equipment maintenance. Lack of training on hazardous energy sources. Failure to fully de-energize equipment before servicing. Inadequate or missing lockout/tagout devices and hardware.   


Signs You’re at Risk: Servicing equipment without locking out energy sources first. Missing or inadequate lockout tagout program, devices, training.  Unauthorized device removal or equipment re-energization during maintenance.   


Prevention Checklist: 

– Is there a written hazardous energy control procedure for each piece of equipment? 

– Have employees received proper training on energy control procedures?    

– Is lockout hardware readily available and used by workers? 

– Are periodic inspections of energy control procedures conducted?   

– Are lockout devices removed only by employees who installed them? 

– Are energy isolation points clearly labeled on equipment? 


7. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134

Almost 2,500 violations for inadequate medical clearances for respirator users, fit-testing issues, poor or no written programs, and facepiece seal problems. Healthcare and construction industries with high citation numbers. 


OSHA Definition: Requires employer-provided respirators be used when engineering controls do not adequately prevent air contaminants. Includes medical evaluations, fit testing, training, program administration, and selection of proper NIOSH-certified respiratory protection. 


Why it Happens: Failure to assess workplace respiratory hazards adequately. Lack of medical clearance for respirator users. Not properly fit testing equipment to users. Allowing facial hair or other conditions preventing good seal with face. Insufficient training and program administration shortcomings. 


Signs You’re at Risk: Air sampling not conducted for contaminant exposures. Workers with respirators but no medical clearance or fit test training. Respirators seem inadequate for hazards present. Leaks detected on faces or around respirator edges.   


Prevention Checklist: 

– Have workplace respiratory hazards been fully assessed?   

– Are workers medically cleared before using respirators?   

– Are tight-fitting respirators fit-tested at least annually?   

– Are respirators properly cleaned, inspected and maintained? 

– Have workers been trained on respiratory protection topics? 

– Are respirator programs evaluated regularly by qualified admins? 


8. Fall Protection Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503)

Over 2,100 violations for not properly training workers to recognize fall hazards and inadequate record certification. Mainly construction industry citations. 


OSHA Definition: Outlines requirements for employer provided training to recognize fall hazards and minimize risks. Includes assessment of skill/knowledge, certification records, and retraining procedures.   


Why it Happens:  Failure to fully train workers to recognize fall hazards they may encounter and how to minimize risks while working at heights. Records lack training dates, content, attendee names, or trainer signatures.  


Signs You’re at Risk: Fall protection training not provided or documented. Observed falls or fall protection knowledge gaps among workers at heights. Training certificates not on file. Unsafe behaviors when working at elevations.   


Prevention Checklist: 

– Is initial and periodic fall protection training provided for all workers at heights? 

– Are training records on file with attendee names, subjects covered, trainer names, and dates? 

– Are workers knowledgeable on fall hazards/protection after training sessions conclude?   

– Is fall protection training provided by a qualified person? 

– Is refresher training scheduled and completed annually?   

– Are online training completions verified with testing? 


9. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102) 

Around 2,000 violations cited for failure to ensure workers used eye protection against workplace impact/ particle hazards. Construction dominated violation counts. 


OSHA Definition: Requires employers provide appropriate eye and face protection, like safety glasses or shields, when occupational eye/face injuries from physical, chemical, radiation, particulate hazards are possible. Must meet ANSI Z87 standards.  


Why it Happens: Allowing workers to perform tasks like cutting, grinding, hammering, welding without verified impact/particle resistant eye protection. Using eyewear that does not adequately shield against hazards present.  


Signs You’re at Risk: Workers observed wearing standard prescription glasses without side shields/guards when hazards are present. Tasks done that risk eye injuries, but no protective eyewear worn. Protective eyewear lacks appropriate ANSI rating.   


Prevention Checklist: 

– Have work activities with risks to eyes/face been identified?    

– Is proper ANSI-rated eye protection selected for those tasks available? 

– Are side shields, face shields used when hazards approach from side?    

– Is protective eyewear actually worn consistently at all times by workers when required?   

– Is damaged safety eyewear immediately removed from service? 

– Are proper storage and cleaning methods used for reusable eye protection equipment? 


10. Machine Guarding (29 CFR 1910.212)  

Approximately 1,600 citations for unguarded machinery nip and pinch points and rotating parts. Manufacturing industry most frequently cited by far. 


OSHA Definition: Contains requirements for employers to properly guard machinery parts like belts, gears, shafts, pulleys, sprockets, spindles, chains, rotating parts, etc. that pose risks to workers. Aims to prevent point-of-operation, nip point, rotating parts, and flying chip hazards. 


Why it Happens: Failure to properly install machine guards to shield hazardous areas. Allowing removal of guards during operation. Lack of regular inspection and maintenance of guards. Improper guard replacement after service/jam clearing. Poor guard design, material selection, or installation techniques.   


Signs You’re at Risk: Unguarded machinery areas observed where body parts or clothing could contact. Prior operator injuries from unguarded areas. Makeshift or poorly designed and installed guards. Guards loose, damaged, easily removable without tools.  


Prevention Checklist: 

– Have machinery nip points, rotating parts, and other hazards been properly guarded?   

– Are machine guards securely mounted and unable to be easily removed without tools? 

– Are machine guards routinely inspected and kept in working condition? 

– Is machinery de-energized and locked out before any guard removal?   

– Are guards properly replaced after material jams or service work is completed?   

– Are proper materials used to construct guards that will not easily corrode, dent or warp?