Most common serious violations in General Industry

Date Posted: 07/17/2023
Slip Hazard

Reviewing the ten most-cited General Industry citations reveals common problems in retail, warehousing, and healthcare as well as manufacturing. The list shows that employers in any industry could face serious violations with penalties exceeding $15,000 per citation.

OSHA releases an annual list of the ten most-cited standards. In that list, the General Industry standards include:

  • Hazard Communication
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Lockout/Tagout
  • Machine Guarding
  • Powered Industrial Trucks

Other General Industry standards that frequently result in serious citations include those shown below. The total penalties reflect the fiscal year ending in September of 2022.


Total penalties

Exit routes; 1910.37$6.6 million
General Duty Clause; Section 5(a)(1)$5.68 million
Electrical: General; 1910.303$5 million
Walking-working surfaces; 1910.22$4.84 million
Fall protection and falling objects; 1910.28$3.86 million
PPE general requirements; 1910.132$2.53 million
Reporting fatalities and hospitalizations; 1904.39$2.42 million

Exit routes

An obstructed route or locked exit door could cause fatalities by delaying egress during an emergency, so OSHA cites these as serious violations. OSHA also frequently cites for missing or inadequate exits signs. These violations commonly occur in retail and warehousing.

General Duty Clause

The General Duty Clause shows high penalties because OSHA can cite it only for serious hazards. OSHA has applied the General Duty Clause to heat illness, ergonomics (particularly in warehousing), and workplace violence (usually in health care or social assistance).

Electrical standards

The electrical standard includes a variation of the General Duty Clause which says, “Electric equipment shall be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.” Citations include things like damaged insulation on wiring, or exposed electrical parts of equipment motors.

In addition, OSHA cites this standard for things like using fans that aren’t approved for the location, or even using a residential coffee maker in the workplace. This standard also requires maintaining access and working space around electrical equipment; employees all too often place boxes or equipment in front of electrical panels, blocking access.

Walking-Working Surfaces

The standard at 1910.22 requires keeping the workplace in a clean and dry condition. One employer was cited over $10,000 for a grease spill on a floor that caused a slipping hazard. OSHA has also citated this standard for combustible dust accumulations.

The standard at 1910.28 covers fall protection and falling object protection. This may include failure to provide fall protection at loading docks when the doors are left open for ventilation, unguarded holes or floor openings, or missing fall protection at other elevated locations.

Personal protective equipment

Employers must conduct a hazard assessment and create a written certification that it was completed. If the assessment identifies PPE needs, employers must provide the necessary PPE and deliver training on proper care and use.

Getting employees to consistently wear PPE is a challenge for many employers, but blaming employees for breaking the rules won’t avoid a citation. OSHA expects employers to effectively use training and enforcement to encourage compliance.

Reporting serious injuries

All employers must report any in-patient hospitalization, amputation, loss of an eye, or fatality to OSHA. Even employers that are not required to keep an OSHA 300 Log must make these reports. These incidents often indicate a serious hazard that OSHA may want to investigate. Failure to report within required time frames (or at all) is a common violation.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

OSHA doesn’t limit investigations to manufacturing establishments. Retail and warehousing operations are frequently targeted, as well as smaller businesses. To learn more about the most common General Industry citations, watch our archived webcast “General Industry’s 10 Most Frequently Cited Serious Violations” from July 26, 2023. Our experts review common citations and answer your questions!

E-mail Newsletter

Sign up to receive the weekly EHS Insider email newsletter for safety articles, news headlines, regulatory alerts, industry events, webcasts, and more.