The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced its preliminary 2017 list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations. OSHA announced the list in the 2017 National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo held in Indianapolis. The goal is to inform the public of the standards most commonly cited for violations and allow employers to focus their efforts on those standards to make workplaces safer for employees.

OSHA compiles this list every year based on around 32,000 workplace inspections by its staff. While this report covers general industry and construction, 4 of the top ten standards most cited this year were from the construction standards 29 CFR 1926.  The others, from 1910, cover general industry.  These rankings rarely change, as most of them highlight OSHA’ Focus Four: Falls, Caught-in or Between, Struck-By, and Electrocution. This year also features a first-time top-10 entry: “Fall Protection — training requirements”, no doubt because of OSHA’s new fall protection requirements.

Every year more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job about 3 million are injured, despite the fact that employers are required by law to provide safe and healthy workplaces for their workers.

Below is the Top 10 Frequently Cited OSHA Standards for Construction for the 2017 fiscal year. The final report for this year is expected to be released in December. Included here are the title, standard number, the top 10 ranking from the previous year and the number of citations issued.


Subpart Title: Fall Protection
Standard Number: 1926.501
Title: Duty to have fall protection.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 1
Number of Citations: 5,378

Subpart Title: Scaffolds
Standard Number: 1926.451
Title: General requirements.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 2
Number of Citations: 2,644

Subpart Title: Ladders
Standard Number: 1926.1053
Title: Ladders.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 3
Number of Citations: 1,989

Subpart Title: Fall Protection
Standard Number: 1926.503
Title: Training requirements.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 4
Number of Citations: 1,353

Subpart Title: Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment
Standard Number: 1926.102
Title: Eye and face protection.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 5
Number of Citations: 1,125

Subpart Title: Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment
Standard Number: 1926.100
Title: Head protection.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 8
Number of Citations: 700

Subpart Title: Toxic and Hazardous Substances
Standard Number: 1910.1200
Title: Hazard Communication.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 6
Number of Citations: 688

Subpart Title: Scaffolds
Standard Number: 1926.453
Title: Aerial lifts.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 9
Number of Citations: 629

Subpart Title: General Safety and Health Provisions
Standard Number: 1926.20
Title: General safety and health provisions.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 7
Number of Citations: 603

Subpart Title: Fall Protection
Standard Number: 1926.502
Title: Fall protection systems criteria and practices.
FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 10
Number of Citations: 556


Fall protection changes went into effect at the beginning of the year, but most employers took some time to implement those changes, which sought to bring all workplaces in line with current construction-level regulations. 

While the fine amount can vary according to the type of violation (ie, fall, respiratory, etc…) OSHA actually pays more attention to the activities and motivations in and around the violation to determine how much they will fine you. That is — Is the company small? Is it a repeat offense? Was it a willful violation?

The best thing to do is to prevent dangerous situations from occurring in the first place by being efficient, transparent, and having a streamlined processes in your operations. When you have things recorded, archived, and signed off on correctly — including safety audits and inspections — fines don’t happen.