Top 15 construction-related OSHA violations

Date Posted: 03/20/2023
Construction worker on roof with fall protection

OSHA’s annual list of top ten violations includes only five construction standards, which doesn’t tell the full story of common construction hazards. The list below shows the 15 most-cited standards under Part 1926. Most relate to four categories: fall protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), training, and excavations.

  1. 1926.501 — Duty to have fall protection
  2. 1926.1053 — Ladders
  3. 1926.451 — Scaffolds
  4. 1926.503 — Fall protection training
  5. 1926.102 — Eye and face protection
  6. 1926.100 — Head protection
  7. 1926.20 — General safety and health provisions (accident prevention)
  8. 1926.453 — Aerial lifts
  9. 1926.651 — Specific excavation requirements
  10. 1926.502 — Fall protection systems criteria and practices
  11. 1926.652 — Requirements for protective systems (excavations)
  12. 1926.21 — Safety training and education
  13. 1926.1153 — Respirable crystalline silica
  14. 1926.1060 — Training requirements (stairways and ladders)
  15. 1926.405 — Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use

Naturally, the first five appear in OSHA’s top ten list every year. Expanding the range to 15 citations helps to better illustrate some themes. Of course, better training might address violations under many topics.

Violations for failing to provide fall protection and training under items 1 and 4, along with fall protection equipment under item 10, show that construction workers experience frequent exposure to fall hazards and might not even have appropriate equipment. Very likely, using equipment like scaffolds (item 3) and aerial lifts (item 8) also involves fall hazards. Note that the duty to have fall protection includes falling object protection.

Second to falls, OSHA commonly cites for failure to use PPE. Items 5 and 6 show that violations regarding eye and face protection, as well as head protection, occur far too often. Employers cannot completely eliminate flying or falling object hazards on construction sites, and PPE provides the last line of defense against injuries.

The third common area involves training, particularly general safety training as in items 7 and 12, and training to use specific equipment like ladders as in item 14. Most likely, training shortfalls apply to other topics as well. For example, workers improperly using scaffolds, aerial lifts, or electrical wiring may benefit from additional training on safely using the equipment.

With item 15 on wiring methods, a common issue is not having proper ground fault protection or having an assured equipment grounding conductor program.

Finally, violations related to excavations appear frequently, as in items 9 and 11. OSHA focuses on this issue due to the risk of severe injuries and fatalities, with a long-running National Emphasis Program and trenching and excavation. These citations may also involve a lack of training. Remember that some excavations are confined spaces and will have special safety requirements like atmospheric monitoring.

While every job site may be unique, certain hazards are common to many locations, and training may help avoid citations as well as injuries. To identify focus areas, employers should conduct a hazard evaluation, including an evaluation of worker skills and knowledge. Also, check your commercial liability insurance policies for specific requirements. For example, many policies require a longer fire watch after hot work has ceased.

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