The Year’s Top Safety Violations

Here are some facts, trends and statistics surrounding OSHA’s top 10 violations for 2022

The Year’s Top Safety Violations

Interested in Safety?

Get Safety articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Safety + Get Alerts

While workplaces across the country have introduced new safety guidelines and regulations in recent years to significantly reduce workplace injuries — down more than 60% since 1970 — workplace accidents are still a frequent occurrence in the United States.

Moreover, OSHA continues to cite the same safety violations year after year, making it especially important to follow and comply with workplace safety standards.

Here’s a look from at the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations in the workplace for FY 2022. Preliminary numbers were announced at the 2022 NSC Congress & Expo. This list represents citations across all industries resulting from worksite inspections by federal OSHA agents.

1. Fall Protection (General) — 5,260
2. Hazard Communication — 2,424
3. Respiratory Protection — 2,185
4. Ladders — 2,143
5. Scaffolding — 2,058
6. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) — 1,977
7. Powered Industrial Trucks — 1,749
8. Fall Protection (Training) —1,556
9. Personal Protective Equipment — 1,401
10. Machine Guarding — 1,370

Fall protection doesn't fall from No. 1

Fall protection still holds the top violation slot at 5,260 citations — down only 35 violations from 2021. From 2011–2021 the number of falls increased according to OSHA inspection activity, making 2022’s decline the first sign of a welcome downward trend.

Falls are also the leading cause of death among construction workers, which is why this continues to be a top priority for OSHA inspectors and a top priority in any safety training plan. The most common OSHA citations for fall-related violations are:

Not only does fall protection (general) hit the top of the list each year, additionally ladders, scaffolding, and fall protection training are seen year after year among the most cited violations, making fall-related violations almost 50% of the 2022 list. That is why it continues to be important that workers who could be exposed to fall hazards go through training to be able to better detect hazards, use PPE properly, and put fall protection systems into place where they are needed.

Hazard communication jumps up to No. 2

Hazard communication standard (HCS) violations make a 20% jump from No. 5 with 1,947 citations in 2021 to No. 2 with 2,424 in 2022.

The majority of these violations happen because of the complexity and paperwork involved in compliance. Organizations may receive a citation for failing to:

  1. Label their chemical containers properly
  2. Leave certain substances off their chemical inventory lists
  3. Neglect to obtain Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from manufacturers
  4. Maintain a hazard communication plan
  5. Include necessary information in the written plan

Sometimes, gaps in training can also lead to violations. If all workers have not been trained or if the training courses are incomplete or out of date, the organization can expect trouble from OSHA.

OSHA continues to focus on priorities

With 1,850 federal and state OSHA inspectors, there is approximately one inspector for every 70,000 U.S. workers. Additionally, in recent years the number of total OSHA inspections has dropped about 33% due in part to the pandemic.

Without more oversight, there is a need to prioritize violations by their severity to keep most workers safe. OSHA's top priorities for inspections are:

  • Impending danger — a situation where workers face an immediate risk of death or serious injury
  • A fatality or catastrophe — an accident that requires hospitalization of three or more workers
  • Third priority is employee complaints and referrals

In FY 2021, OSHA conducted 24,333 inspections, 57%, or 12,749, of which were unprogrammed. This includes employee complaints, injuries/fatalities, and referrals according to OSHA’s 2021 enforcement summary.

That leaves the remaining 43% of inspections, or 10,584, as programmed inspections that focused OSHA’s enforcement resources on industries and operations where known hazards exist (e.g., COVID-19, respirable silica, combustible dusts, chemical processing, ship-breaking, and falls in construction).

In the 2022 data published through September 2022, it seems that there may be an upward trend in the total number inspections as the total for 2021 has already been surpassed. We will have to wait for final numbers to see if the types of inspections held vary at all post-pandemic.

According to OSHA’s website, in roughly half a century, OSHA and its state partners have had a powerful effect on workplace safety. Worker deaths in America are down — on average, from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2020. Worker injuries and illnesses are down — from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.7 per 100 in 2020.

With continued training, compliance, and vigilance we can all help to keep reducing the number of citations, incidents, and deaths in years to come.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.