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OSHA’s 2021 Top 10 Violations

Familiar faces and a bit of shuffling highlight the list

Safety Inquiry

OSHA Top 10 Violations 2021

For the year 2021, OSHA recently released its annual ranking of the top 10 safety violations.  While the previous year gave most operations an easier time managing employee distance and protection, these rankings show us that safety is always a top priority.

This year saw some shuffling within the top 10. With that said, the overall number one remained unchallenged and unchanged yet again.

Top 10 deep dive

10. Machine guarding

Holding steady in the 10-spot for another year, machine guarding stays put. While there was no movement this year, the increase in the adoption of automated systems for many facilities could cause this category to rise in the future. Guarding against workers getting caught or injured by automated equipment, and protecting the equipment from damage will certainly become more important.

See: Machine guarding for maximum protection

Find out more at 1910.212

9. Powered industrial trucks

forklift arc light in usePowered trucks fall two spots from the previous list. This violation category covers maintenance, operation and training of all those moving vehicles that work hard in any facility. While its dropping signals a decrease in accidents, this powered truck safety should always be a high priority. By outfitting your forklifts with added safety features such as blue lights and cameras, you increase worker safety.

See: Forklift accessories that matter

Find out more at 1910.178

8. Eye/Face protection

Moving up one is eye and face protection. Proper labeling of hazardous materials and the rise in automated systems are the main areas of concern here. This category is dependent on proper (and reoccurring) training for all employees. The right eye protection matters, too, with the most comfortable and protective being the least likely to be removed.

Find out more at 1926.102

7. Fall protection training requirements

Rising one spot is one of the two fall protection violation categories. Continuous training for those who work in high-risk falling areas is certainly a must. Combine this training with the right working environment that encourages fall protection, and accidents can be reduced.

Find out more at 1926.503

6. Lockout/Tagout

Staying strong in the sixth spot is lockout/tagout. This category will remain firmly entrenched as long as shortcuts incorrect lockout/tagout procedures are ignored. While we’re repeating the “proper training” angle already in this countdown, there’s no substitute. Also, a management style that encourages those in lockout/tagout situations to do the right thing can only help.

Find out more at 1910.147

5. Hazard Communication

Just because this violation fell 3 spots doesn’t mean you should let up in safety messaging! Vigilance in labeling (and maintaining those labels) of hazardous chemicals is neverending. Make sure your safety program not only provides correct labeling but robust education for all employees. Training your workers to recognize the warning signs and how to read hazardous labeling will pay off in fewer accidents. In addition, you want to offer safe spaces for storing such materials with labeling on each.

Find out more at 1910.1200

4. Scaffolding

Moving up 2 spots is scaffolding and the need to assess in your facility where you need to place them. The key in this violation is having a qualified designer and installer of your scaffolding, and not trusting your non-qualified workers to do so. Another factor is education and training for those employees who are in close proximity. This is critical as those on the platforms are distracted, so those on the ground must watch out for falling objects and people.

Find out more at 1926.451

3. Ladders

crossover ladder in use on roofThe height hits just keep on coming! Once again ladder safety makes it into the top 5. With a dedicated month focusing on ladder safety, it’s no wonder this violation requires heavy focus for any facility. Whether your workforce uses the traditional step ladders, rolling ladders, crossovers, or the ever-increasing mezzanine ladder, this category has multiple training options. While simple add-ons like anti-slip covering certainly help, this is another area where education and training really matter.

See: Advantages of modular crossovers and platforms

Find out more at 1926.1053

2. Respiratory protection

Marching up the charts, powered by the “new normal” that Covid has introduced, is respiratory protection. Figuring out what areas your workers need masks and which type will protect them best is paramount to keeping them safe in hazardous environments. Not to mention in the age of distance, those that feel more comfortable should have the option to wear a mask.

Find out more at 1910.134

1. Fall protection – general requirements

fall protection equipment in useUnchallenged and unchanged for yet another year in a row. Starting a second decade at the top of this list is no surprise to those focusing on facility safety. Combining the right training with the right fall protection equipment is paramount to keeping elevated workers safe. As in other safety categories, a daily mindset on fall protection is key to employee buy-in and adherence as well. There’s no substitute for quality leadership on this topic, and that will continue to be the case.

Find out more at 1926.501

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