Prioritizing workplace safety: OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2023

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November 30, 2023 - Workplace safety is a big deal for everyone from the C-suite to the shop floor. And OSHA, better known as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (but I like to think of it as the guardian angel of safety at work) plays a key part in making sure that safety is an organizational priority.

Each year, OSHA releases its list of the top safety violations, pointing out areas where we really need to pay better attention. Eric Harbin, OSHA Region 6 administrator, recently presented the top 10 safety violations for 2023 at the 2023 NSC Safety Congress & Expo, which covers a mix of old and new worries, emphasizing how crucial workplace safety is. As we begin preparing for 2024, here is this year’s break down:

1. Fall protection: 7,271 violations

Fall Protection–General Requirements (1926.501) still tops OSHA's violation list for 13 consecutive years for causing significant injuries and fatalities at work. Proper training and adherence to safety protocols are vital in fall prevention. It's all about having solid fall protection systems in place like guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall-restraint and arrest systems. Making sure everyone's trained up and following safety requirements is key to stopping falls.


BSI E-Learning: Fall Prevention Deserves Your Attention: Hidden Fall Hazards2. 

2. Hazard communication: 3,213 violations

When we talk about hazard communication (1910.1200) violations, it's all about making sure hazardous materials are labeled correctly, safety data sheets (SDSs) are on point, and workers know the risks. Understanding workplace hazards is the key to stopping accidents and keeping everyone safe from chemical exposure.

3. Ladders: 2,978 violations

Ladders might be everyday tools, but they're also a frequent source of accidents. Proper ladder use, maintenance, and safety measures are crucial to prevent falls and injuries. OSHA's (1926.1053) emphasis on ladder safety underscores the need for training employees in ladder use and maintenance.

4. Scaffolding: 2,859 violations

Scaffolding (1926.451) poses risks in construction and related industries. Violations in this category serve as a reminder to maintain scaffold safety, conduct regular inspections, and ensure that they are only used by authorized personnel. Training and sticking to the regulatory requirements are the keys to stopping scaffold-related accidents.

5. Powered industrial trucks: 2,561 violations

Powered industrial trucks (PITs) such as forklifts are essential but dangerous if not operated correctly. OSHA's PIT regulation (1910.178) highlights the need for proper training and important safety measures for those operating PITs.

6. Lockout/Tagout: 2,554 violations

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) (1910.147) violations address risks during machinery service and maintenance activities. To prevent accidents, it's crucial to develop and follow proper LOTO procedures, provide crucial LOTO equipment, and provide thorough training for authorized users and affected employees (See BSI E-Learning: Hazardous Energy Control Program: Lock-Out/Tagout webinar).

7. Respiratory protection: 2,481 violations

OSHA's inclusion of respiratory protection (1910.134) violations underscores the importance of protecting workers from airborne contaminants by performing exposure assessments (identifying the hazard), providing suitable respiratory equipment and associated fit tests, and emphasizing proper equipment use.

8. Fall protection training requirements: 2,112 violations

Fall protection training requirements (1926.503) stress the importance of educating workers on specific risks and on how to use fall protection equipment properly. Adequate training can save lives by preventing fall incidents.

9. Personal protective and lifesaving equipment, eye, and face protection: 2,074 violations

Protective gear for the eyes and face (1926.102) are essential for safeguarding workers from hazards like flying particles and chemicals. Making sure that employees have the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and know how to use it is key to avoiding injuries.

10. Machine guarding: 1,644 violations

Improperly guarded machines can be hazardous. Machine guarding (1910.212) violations remind us to implement safeguards that protect workers from moving parts, ensure machines have necessary safety features, and provide training on their safe and proper use.

This list from OSHA isn't presented to scare us but rather to be a wake-up call for both employers and employees. If we fix these things, companies can reduce injuries, save lives, and create a safer, more productive work environment in 2024. Fewer accidents mean happier days for everyone.

Also read Electrical safety gets a jolt: Diving into NFPA 70E’s latest updates, Unveiling OSHA’s 2024 game changer: Electronic submission for safer workplaces, and Cracking OSHA's warehouse safety code from BSI safety expert Khara Huhta and follow our Compliance Essentials for other regulatory updates.

For more insights on environmental, health, safety and well-being, digital trust, privacy and information security, supply chain, and sustainability topics that should be at the top of your organization's list, visit BSI's Experts Corner.