Risk & Safety

OSHA Top Citations & Penalties

Ella Baker
OSHA Citations and Violations
Reading time 4 Mins
Published on Jun 8

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) mission is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and compliance assistance. Since its creation in 1970, OSHA’s efforts have led to a 62% decline in workplace deaths and a 42% decrease in workplace injuries.

Staying compliant with OSHA’s many rules and regulations can be overwhelming for any company. While no business owner wants to see their workers injured on the job or exposed to potentially hazardous substances, keeping employees safe can be a challenge.

Familiarizing yourself with the most cited standards, along with the different types of violations and their associated fines is the first step to understanding how you can avoid noncompliance and keep your employees safe.

Frequently cited standards

Each year OSHA issues a list of the 10 most frequently cited standards for the previous fiscal year. This list provides employers with valuable information to help find and fix recognized hazards, avoid violations, and ensure employee safety.

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations
  2. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527
  3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948
  5. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113
    (for Fiscal Year 2021 – October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021)

OSHA Violations & Potential Penalties

OSHA defines each violation type depending on the severity and threat of injury resulting from the violation: willful, serious, other-than-serious, repeated, failure to abate prior violations, and other miscellaneous violations.

  • Willful Violation
    A violation in which the employer either knowingly ceased to comply with a legal requirement or acted with a simple lack of concern to employee safety. Willful violations carry a minimum penalty of $10,360 and a maximum penalty of up to $145,027 per violation.
  • Serious Violation
    A violation which results in workplace dangers that could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or in serious physical harm unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation. A mandatory penalty between $1,036 and $14,502 may apply to serious violations.
  • Other-Than-Serious Violation
    These violations have a direct correlation to job safety and health but are not as serious in nature as other violations. Penalty amounts for these violations may range between $0 and $14,502 per violation.
  • Repeated Violation
    These violations occur when an employer is cited for a violation that is the same or very similar to a previous infraction that has been committed by the company. Repeated violations carry a maximum penalty of up to $145,027 per violation.
  • Failure to Abate
    These penalties occur when an employer fails to correct a previously cited OSHA violation by the set abatement date. These violations can carry fines of up to $14,502/day beyond the abatement date.

Other violations include:

  • Falsifying records, reports, or applications can result in a criminal fine of $10,000 or up to six months in jail, or both.
  • Violating posting requirements can result in a civil penalty of up to $14,502
  • Assaulting a compliance officer or otherwise resisting, intimidating, or interfering with a compliance offer in the course of their duties can incur a criminal fine of up to $5,000 or up to three years imprisonment.

Sheakley can help you avoid OSHA violations and fines

Statistics published by the Department of Labor report that there are around 93 million workers in more than 6 million workplaces in America. During a typical year in the United States, more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job, and approximately 3 million are injured, and many others die from work related illnesses. Aside from all the human suffering, workplace injuries cost the U. S. economy billions of dollars each year.

Let Sheakley be the partner that helps you keep your employees safe and your workplace compliant. Our team of experts can evaluate your current program, train your employees, and provide another set of eyes on your jobsite and in your workplace. We make safety our business so you can focus on yours.

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