Past Theme: OSHA Top 10
Every year, OSHA's list of frequently cited standards serves as an important reminder of some of the workplace safety issues that matter most.
To help keep workers safe, OSHA can issue fines to businesses that put their workers at risk—fines of up to $13,653 per serious violation, up to $13,653 per day for failure to abate and up to $136,532 per willful or repeated violation.
Fall protection, respiratory protection and ladders topped the agency's 2021 list.
Fall protection – general requirements (1926.501) has been the agency's most-cited standard for 11 years running. In 2021, there were 5,271 violations.
After transportation incidents, falls are the leading cause of work-related death. And according to the National Safety Council, falls are largely preventable.
Fall protection is important for any organization that uses ladders, scaffolding or elevated work platforms, as well as when work involves stairways, roofs, wall openings or unprotected floor holes, among other common hazards.
Respiratory protection (1910.134) was OSHA's No. 2 standard in 2021, up from No. 3 in 2020. There were 2,521 violations of this standard in 2021. Respirators and respiratory protection programs have been top-of-mind in many organizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
In 2021, the percentage of cited violations of this standard increased from 5.3% to 6.5%.
The most-cited sections of the standard were 1910.134(e)(1), on medical evaluation; 1910.134(f)(2), on fit testing; and 1910.134(c)(1), on establishing and implementing written respiratory protection programs.
Ladders (1926.1053) was OSHA's No. 3 standard in 2021, up from No. 5 the year before.
The most-cited section of the standard was 1926.1053(b)(1), for using a portable ladder that's too short and not properly secured at its top.
There were 1,269 violations of this section in 2021, which states that the ladder side rails need to extend at least three feet above the upper landing surface that the ladder is being used to access.
The data above is current as of Nov. 8. See the rest of OSHA's top 10 for 2021.
Past Theme: Cold Stress
Prolonged exposure to cold weather or cold indoor working conditions can lead to cold stress. Some employers fail to recognize and address cold stress hazards because they don't know the related signs and symptoms, which include:
- Cold water immersion
Solutions that Work
Even the most attentive and proactive worker can’t tackle the dangers of cold stress alone. A cooperative approach is important. OSHA’s guidance for cold stress prevention lists engineering controls, training, safe work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE)—such as appropriate cold weather attire—as foundational components for employers to build into their work plans. Employers should:
- Train workers on how to help prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries, and how to apply first aid treatment
- Give workers frequent breaks in warm areas
- Ensure employees are dressed properly in cold temperatures
- Reduce exposure time
- Allow workers to interrupt work if they feel a cold condition affecting them
- Provide engineering controls such as thermostats and door flaps to help control exposure indoors
Register to view an on-demand cold stress webinar.