The 2018 OSHA top 10 list is out. See what’s new and top of mind for the regulator and enforcer of safety in the U.S.

In an effort to highlight common safety issues and raise awareness about steps that can be taken to prevent accidents and injuries, here are the top tips that can help you boost your OSHA compliance and avoid being part of its Top 10 violations list.

Every year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration compiles a “Top 10 list” of the most egregious compliance violations based on safety area and announces them at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo. This year is no different.

What’s new in OSHA’s Top 10 Violations for 2018? The majority of the list remains in the same safety areas—including fall protection, lockout/tagout, respirators, ladders and scaffolding all holding their respective spots. But fall protection training moved up one spot from No. 9 in 2017 to No. 8 this year. Conversely, machine guarding dropped from the No. 8 spot down to No. 9. And the newest area to crack the list at No. 10 is eye and face protection—which took over from last year’s electrical wiring methods.

“The OSHA Top 10 list calls out areas that require increased vigilance to ensure everyone goes home safely each day,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSC, in a press release.

Here, we’ve listed the top and most common hazards that apply to the general manufacturing industry for the fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018), along with safety tips and online resources—including videos—that offer some guidance. See the sidebar for the full list and number of violations for each area.

OSHA Violation No. 1 and No. 8: Fall Protection and Fall Protection-Training Requirements

What it is: Violations to the general requirements of the fall protection standard (29 CFR 1926.501) topped the OSHA Top 10 violations list of 2018 list of most-cited violations, while violations of the fall protection training requirements (29 CFR 1926.503) came in eighth place. In the first case, employers were most commonly cited for failing to provide fall protection when needed in a variety of situations, including on roofs or on walking/working surfaces that were more than 6 feet above a lower level or that had an unprotected side or edge. In the second, employers were cited for failing to provide adequate training.

Safety tip: Any employee who might be exposed to fall hazards should receive training in recognizing those hazards and the procedures to follow to minimize them, including the use of personal fall arrest systems.

Watch: FallTech, a manufacturer of personal fall arrest systems, created a video on fall protection that focuses on inspecting and putting on body harnesses. Other videos include instructions for inspecting self-retracting devices and inspecting fall protection lanyards.

For help with fall protection, be sure to explore Honeywell Miller ‘s “Guide to Personal Fall Arrest Systems.”

And browse a full slate of fall protection equipment right here.

OSHA Violation No. 2: Hazard Communication Standard

What it is: OSHA’s hazard communications standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) requires facilities to clearly label workplace chemical hazards and to provide information on the chemicals and their dangers to employees. Top citations were for: failure to develop, implement and maintain a hazard communication program; failure to maintain workplace copies of safety data sheets; and failing to provide employees with information and training on the hazardous chemicals in the workplace.

Safety tip: Keeping up-to-date safety data sheets for the chemicals in your facility not only meets OSHA requirements but also helps keep your employees safe.

Watch: A 15-minute video from Cardi Construction Corp. describes the different aspects of OSHA’s hazardous communications standard, as well as walking through the different sections of a safety data sheet.

OSHA Violation No. 3: Scaffolding Requirements

What it is: Frequent violations to OSHA’s scaffolding requirements (29 CFR 1926.451) are failure to provide adequate protection to employees on scaffolds, providing incorrect access to scaffolds, having incorrect decking on scaffolds, and failing to protect employees with either personal fall arrest systems or guardrail systems.

Safety tip: Regular inspections are key to ensuring OSHA scaffolding requirements

are met and are set up safely for employees and contractors.

Watch: In 2010, the State Compensation Insurance Fund created two video training sessions for scaffolding safety. Part 1 is available on YouTube here, while part 2 is available here. The videos cover safe use and inspection of scaffolds, fall hazards, using designation egress areas, rolling scaffolds and the use of personal protective equipment.

OSHA Violation No. 4: Respiratory Protection

What it is: OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.134 describes when and how employers need to provide workers with respiratory protection and other protections needed for those exposed to hazardous dusts, gases, fogs, etc. Among the most common citations were failing to provide required medical evaluations, not having a written respiratory protection program, and failing to perform fit-testing on employees using respirators.

Safety tip: Every workplace presents different hazards and has different respirator needs. Develop a respiratory protection program to address the needs specific to your workplace.

Watch: OSHA provides a brief overview of respiratory hazards in general industry and respiratory protection requirements in a 10-minute video on its website. The video can be used as part of employee training, but employers must also provide worksite-specific training. Additional OSHA videos cover respirator types, fit testing, maintenance and repairs and medical evaluations.

Frustrated by all the respirator options? Don’t fear. Read our guide: “PPE Selection: Find the Right Type of Respirator.”

OSHA Violation No. 5: Incorrect Lockout/Tagout Procedures

What it is: OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.147 covers the control of potentially hazardous energy. Frequent violations are for failure to develop, document and use procedures, failure to conduct periodic inspections of the procedure, failure to develop an energy control program, failure to provide training to employees, and failure to notify affected employees when lockout or tagout devices are applied or removed.

Safety tip: Make sure employees understand the importance of a lockout/tagout procedure and know how to implement the right safety practices.

Watch this: Lockout/tagout procedures will vary from facility to facility, but an 11-minute safety video from Master Lock provides an overview of why the procedures are important and how they can be implemented. The video covers when lockout/tagout is needed, who is considered an affected employee, steps to safely apply lockout, and more.

Looking for something specific? Browse this wide array of lockout/tagout options.

OSHA Violation No. 6: Ladder Safety Rules

What it is: Violations to OSHA’s recently updated ladder rules (29 CFR 1926.1053) often involve easily avoidable mistakes like employees using a ladder on uneven surfaces or for tasks it wasn’t designed for, or employees standing on the top of a stepladder (which should not be used as a step).

Safety tip: Don’t take ladders for granted. Just because they’re a relatively simple piece of equipment doesn’t mean they’re without hazards.

Try this: The American Ladder Institute offers a library of free training resources on its website. Modules cover stepladders, single and extension ladders, mobile ladders and articulated ladders.

See a full spectrum of rolling, wall mounted, platform and escape ladders right here.

OSHA Violation No. 9: Machine Guards

What it is: Machine guards, as described in OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.212, protect machine operators from pinch points, exposed blades, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. The most common violations involve failure to provide guards, or failing to install guards correctly.

Safety tip: Conducting a safety assessment can help identify machines that are missing guards or have improperly installed machine guards.

Watch this: A video from the PA/OSHA Consultation Program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania highlights the hazards associated with working on machinery, the role of machine guards and the requirements for specific types of guards.

OSHA Violation No. 10: Eye and Face Protection

What it is: OSHA’s 29 CFR 1926.102 rule, which is a construction standard, requires that an employer must “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”

Safety tip: Remember, side protection is also part of the rule when there are flying objects like those found in a metalworking shop. In addition, working conditions, comfort, fit and prescription lenses can play a big role in the kind of PPE you choose. Take note: You may need to wear glasses with a face shield over them to protect light and debris simultaneously.

Watch this: Learn about the different types of glasses used in the general industry standard for eye and face protection from Atlantic Training here. See a little bit of a different take here from 3M that shows the importance of eye protection in a military and police training environment.

Help yourself find the products your employees need for your specific working conditions with our interactive product selector designed for eye and face protection.

How to Get Proactive with OSHA

Facilities looking to take a proactive approach in meeting the OSHA standards that show up in the Top 10 list have a variety of resources to turn to:

  • OSHA’s On-Site Consultation program. The no-cost service, primarily for smaller businesses, offers confidential on-site visits to help facilities identify hazards. No citations or fines are issued, and businesses are given a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections.
  • The OSHA Safe & Sound Campaign urges companies to commit to developing comprehensive health and safety programs.
  • OSHA recently updated the Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs, and the new Recommended Practices guide is designed to be used in a variety of small- and medium-sized businesses. The accompanying website includes tools, case studies and other resources.

Talk to Us!

One hazard rarely talked about is over zealous supervision who push employees to do jobs without the proper safety devices or requirements , in the name of making money and advancing themselves in a company, which often results in injuries and death. Too many employees are afraid to complain because they don't want to lose their jobs!


Employee safety should always come first. Thanks for your comment Randall.


Speaking as an industry oldtimer, this is what I have seen as the primary function of a union. One can voice safety concerns thru your union steward with minimal concerns about retribution.


That's a great piece of feedback for all Safety advocates to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing.


The entire purpose of Safety Programs is to find ways to blame the injured parties, meaning the employees. Each incident inevitably leads writing up each injured employee per negative-demerit systems, all the while the employee is losing work time in the hospital or at home recovering, knowing it's costing their PTO time (if such exists for them) and that they're getting blamed. Managers rarely - if ever - do actual hands-on work, so they're totally cool finding creative new ways to stick it to employees, again. Oh, in the name is "Safety". SURE


Thankfully OSHA doesn't agree with the rubbish you just posted.


Of course not. They wouldn't be in business if they did. Job security and all...


Follow the money


Lots of comments about how employers "stick it" to their employees, but nothing about how employees should have responsibility for their own safety. You should read the OSHA brochures, and know what is safe and what is not. If you need your employer to warn that falling off a roof is hazardous, perhaps you should stay home in bed.


Thanks for your input Tony.


A lot of this stuff, like so many things done by the government, is an attempt to replace intelligence and so-called common sense with generic, one-size-fits-all rules. In trying to fit all situations, the rules often become horribly complex and impractical. I have never worked in a machine shop, in my 30 years as a machinist, where the working machinists did not sympathize with the employer on this issue and regard OSHA as primarily a pain in the butt or something to be worked around. Where I work now we definitely keep on hand the things we actually need and use, such as hearing protection, goggles, dust masks, and chip guards. We use good sense with solvents and electricity. We don't wear neckties while running the lathe. But then we have this lockout/tagout crap that is basically there only to bluff through OSHA inspections. It is not like our machines are down for days at a time, or like you can tangle yourself around the spindle of a Bridgeport mill and have somebody else walk up and somehow not notice you there and plug the thing in and flip the switch on without you saying anything. We aren't stupid.


We're happy to hear that Safety is a priority in your shop. Thanks for your comment John.


Well stated


I read the article and the list skips over #7 & #8.....?


Hi Seth,
Good Eye.
#8 was addressed with the #1 violation, Fall Protection and Fall Protection Training. #7 was Powered Industrial Trucks which we listed out in the sidebar.


Went through many safety classes as well as keeping OSHA certified in later years of a long construction career. Quite a bit of common sense rules but everyone needs to be on the same page.

Some of the previous comments on blaming the employee really are a reality with some, but not all companies. Repeatedly delaying hearings & settlements for injuries, sometimes career ending, are very common. "Starving" an injured worker into accepting a lowball compensation offer seems to be expected.


Thanks for sharing your experience.


My advice to people who feel that their employer is always trying to blame the employee or forces workers to skip safety protections is to.......change your job. Not trying to be flippant. If a company cares so little about you then you need to take care of yourself first. And companies that can't manage "no fault" accident investigations aren't really running a good safety program.

Second comment about looking at Lockout tag tryout as crap. I personally knew two people killed because of failure to follow LOTO procedures. Understanding accidents as the result of multiple causes (and not just the old "employee error" excuse) helps to develop a better picture of why random circumstances will sometimes conspire against us.

Finally, in my work in manufacturing safety (now retired) I don't buy that safety is all a matter of "common sense". If that were truly the case we would somehow never have any accidents. Yet accidents still happen to the skilled and thoughtful and conscientious.


Tom's comment "My advice to people who feel that their employer is always trying to blame the employee or forces workers to skip safety protections is to.......change your job." is exactly a defense and a proof of the fact that their employer is always trying to blame the employee.


At the company where I work, I am the Safety Supervisor. And every time something happens, everyone blames the boss. But I do remind them that if the boss asks them to do something that is unsafe, they all have my cell number and I shut the boss down, believe it or not. I also remind them they too have responsibility for their safety. I also never berate an employee for an accident or seek to blame them. I prefer education vs accusation. Super important to have the owner of the company to have your back. My job would be impossible if the owner and I were not on the same page. I'm very lucky.


The mantra that one former employer had was "You are responsible for your own safety". To a point, yes. An Operator pushes a button, he should get the response he expects and not shocked or hit with a fluid. That is dependent solely on whoever is performing the repair, something an Operator has no control over. Another was "All Accidents are Preventable". That is an absolute. Because of human imperfection and unforeseen occurrence, that will never come to be true. I agree that you can take every known precaution and things will still happen. Someone can slip off of a flat head screw and bust their knuckles on the side of an electrical panel. Gloves, more positive engaging fastener designs, power tools in some cases can prevent those issues. I think the term common sense is over used and out of date. Sensibility and experience are more to the point. Training the less experienced takes time that everyone has to be willing to invest in. The best advice I can pass on is to use the same discernment as a First Responder uses; 1st and foremost CHECK. Look the situation over and recognize risks and hazards to prevent becoming one, start forming your plan which leads to the 2nd, CALL. This requires knowing your limitations and exercising that. Too much is usually better than not enough. 3rd Commence. Forget the time factor when closing in on the goal. In the case of human life that is not always the case but the point is don't get sloppy and take shortcuts because you are up against a timeline. Mistakes and rework only adds to the harm.


We are sorry to hear about the loss of your colleagues. We believe in the importance of Safety on the job and hearing this real-world story reinforces that. Thank you Tom.


what happened to # 7


Hi Don,
#7 was Powered Industrial Trucks which we listed out in the sidebar.


A very good article, but disappointed on the lack of concern for #7.


Hi Mike,
Just today I saw a video online of a bad accident surrounding #7. I appreicate your feedback and will take it into account for upcoming coverage.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Signing into Better MRO is easy. Use your username / password, or register to create an account. We’ll bring you back here as soon as you’re done.

Redirecting you in 5 seconds