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OSHA notes 2020’s most commonly cited workplace hazards

With the Covid-19 pandemic changing nearly every aspect of the workplace in 2020, many Americans may have stopped paying attention to the typical list of workplace hazards. But that doesn’t mean these hazards went away. Unfortunately, they are still problematic, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to cite employers for failing to protect their workers from these dangers.

Recently, OSHA released preliminary data about the most-cited safety violations for 2020. These 10 hazards were ranked in order of how many citations OSHA issued to employers. For the tenth year in a row, the most-cited standard was “Fall Protection – General Requirements.” Some 5,424 violations were identified by OSHA inspectors wherein companies failed to protect their workers against serious fall hazards.

Fall prevention a major issue

In the same vein of height and fall-related hazards, Scaffolding citations were fourth on the list (2,538), while Ladders citations came in at number five (2,129). The eighth hazard on the list was “Fall Protection – Training Requirements,” with 1,621 citations. In short, four out of the 10 most common violations were related to protecting workers from the dangers of gravity.

Personal protective equipment

OSHA has received criticism for failing to adequately enforce mask mandates in the workplace when it comes to preventing the spread of Covid-19. However, the agency was concerned with enforcing rules around other personal protective equipment. The third violation on the list was related to “Respiratory Protection,” with 2,649 citations issued. Number nine on the list was “Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection,” with 1,369 violations.

Machine Safety And More

The final items on the list included:

  • Hazard Communication (#2, with 3,199 citations)
  • Lockout/Tagout (#6, with 2,065 citations)
  • Powered Industrial Trucks (#7, with 1,932 citations)
  • Machine Guarding (#10, with 1,313 citations)

These hazards generally fall into the category of ensuring machine safety, including use of built-in safety mechanisms and communicating with employees about safe use.

Although 2020 was a bad year for everyone – including OSHA – we can at least be thankful that the agency continues to monitor for known hazards that can lead to worker injury, amputation and death. Without this watchdog in place, it is scary to think of how many more workers might be in danger.