Top 10 Most Cited OSHA Standards


OSHA Not Always a Welcomed Guest


Most risk managers and safety managers, even those with excellent safety records, often dread to hear that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is coming to visit their facility (or even worse, OSHA has made an unannounced facility inspection).  The risk managers and safety managers know that even with their best efforts to maintain a safe workplace, employees can, usually unintentionally, act in a manner that creates a safety risk and results in an OSHA citation.


OSHA’s purpose is not to issue citations and fines, but to assist employers in maintaining a safe work place. Since the creation of OSHA in 1970, the number of severe injuries, and the total number of injuries, has been on a slow but continuous decline.  This has resulted in a reduction in the total number of workers’ compensation claims and a reduction in the cost of workers’ compensation claims.



OSHA Regulations Apply to All Private Sector Workers


OSHA regulations apply to all private sector workers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.  The only people who are not subject to OSHA regulations are the self-employed and family members of farm employers who do not have any non-family employees. While most federal government employees are subject to OSHA requirements, employees of the Federal Aviation Administration, Coast Guard, and Mine Safety and Health Administration are exempt from OSHA requirements.



10 Most Frequently Cited Standards


Each year, in an effort to assist employers to identify the areas where they are most likely to be cited for violation of a safety standard, OSHA publishes a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards.  For the fiscal year 2012, which ended on 9-30-12, the 10 most cited standards were:



Work Place Violation OSHA Regulation / Standard Number Cited Violations of Standard 2011 Rank
Fall Protection 1926.501 7,250 2
Hazard Communication 1910.1200 4,696 3
Scaffolding 1926.451 3,814 1
Respiratory Protection 1910.134 2,371 4
Ladders 1926.1053 2,310 8
Machine Guarding 1910.212 2,097 10
Powered Industrial Trucks 1910.178 1,993 7
Electrical – Wiring Methods 1910.305 1,744 6
Lockout/Tagout 1910.147 1,572 5
Electrical – General Requirements 1910.303 1,332 9




As shown above, while the ranking and the number of violations of each OSHA standard changed from 2011 to 2012, each of the top 10 cited violations of OSHA standards in 2012 were also ranked in the top 10 standard violations and citations in 2011.



Identify Your Possible Exposures


We provide this list of the most common violations of OSHA standards to assist you in the recognition of areas where your company could be cited.  We would recommend that you take the top 10 citation list and select all of the categories where your company could have an exposure.  Once you have identified the areas of possible exposures to an OSHA citation, review and study in depth the OSHA standard that applies.  The published OSHA Standards can be found at:


Even if you learn and understand all the OSHA standards listed in the top 10 most cited violations, and eliminate all exposures to OSHA citations from the top 10, you are still subject to an OSHA citation if you are in violation of any of their published standards, including the ambiguous General Duty Clause of the OSHA act.  The General Duty Clause states you will keep the workplace free of hazardous conditions not covered in the published OSHA standards.


Not only does OSHA set and enforce workplace safety and health standards, OSHA will provide assistance and training to employers when requested.  You can review the courses, materials and resources available to your company to prevent injuries (workers’ compensation claims) at:



Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:


Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact:


©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional about workers comp issues.

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