In October 2021, OSHA released preliminary data for the top 10 most-cited standards in fiscal year 2021. The data includes violations cited between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021. The preliminary data was presented at the 2021 NSC Safety Congress and Expo by Patrick Kapust, deputy director of the Directorate of Enforcement Programs at OSHA.

Each year following the publication of the top 10 list Eye on Safety takes a look at the list to see what has changed and also where workplace safety professionals might focus additional safety training and increased focus in their safety programs. In addition, we take a look at the most recent Bureau of Labor statistics incidence rates to provide our industry with additional benchmarking data.

The top 10 most cited violations in 2021 and the changes from 2020 are:

  1. Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134) - moved from No. 3 to No. 2
  3. Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053) – moved from No. 5 to No. 3
  4. Scaffolding (29 CFR 1926.451)
  5. Hazard Communication Standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  6. Lockout/Tagout (29 CFR 1910.147)
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503) – moved up from No. 8 to No. 7
  8. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102) – moved up from No. 9 to No 8
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178) – dropped from No 7 to No.9
  10. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)

The following provides a summary description of categories in the top 10 list that most likely relate to the wholesale/distribution environment. The summaries are intended to provide a high-level overview of the OSHA standards, and possibly provide some guidance on where you might want to further evaluate your current program against the specific standards. In addition, where available, the reader is provided links to training programs covering the safety topic offered by the ASA Education Foundation.

Fall protection (29 CFR 1926.501 and 29 CFR 1926.503)

Two of the top ten cited violations cover fall protection.  Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths. The top area of concern is compliance with the requirement to ensure employees engaged in work 6 feet or above ground are properly protected.  From a training perspective, the top concern is that there is a documented training program in place and documented evidence of training is on record. 

ASA Education Foundation training on this area includes:  Slips, Trips and Falls

Respiratory protection (29 CFR 1910.134)

Section 1910.134 states “In the control of those occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors, the primary objective shall be to prevent atmospheric contamination.”  Specific issues noted over the last year related to the following:  providing a medical evaluation to determine ability of employee’s ability to use the respirator; no written respirator protection program; and lack of ensuring the employee is using a tight-fitting face piece

ASA Education Foundation training in this area includes:  Personal Protective Equipment Fundamentals

Ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053)

When purchasing ladders, you should look for compliance to the appropriate American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ASC A14 standards.  In addition, top citations in this area include not having a ladder extend 3 feet above the upper landing surface and using the ladder for a purpose not intended.

An important aspect of ladder safety are individuals carrying items. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50% of all ladder-related accidents were due to individuals carrying items as they climbed. The OSHA standards state: “Each employee shall use at least one hand to grasp the ladder when progressing up and/or down the ladder.”

ASA Education Foundation training in this area includes: Ladder Safety 

Hazard communication 

Hazard communication requirements are defined in section 1910.1200 and the purpose of this section is to ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees.  Employers are required to develop, implement, and maintain at each workplace, a written hazard communication program.  

ASA Education Foundation training in this area includes:  Hazard Communication and Basics: Hazard Awareness for Supervisors.

Powered industrial trucks 

The section most cited for powered industrial trucks is Section 1910.178. This section applies to “fire protection, design, maintenance and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines.” The requirements include:

  • Approved trucks shall bear a label or some other identifying mark indicating approval by the testing laboratory. See paragraph (a)(7) of this section and paragraph 405 of “American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969;”
  • Modifications and additions which affect capacity and safe operation shall not be performed by the customer or user without manufacturer’s prior written approval; and
  • There are training requirements in the section that need to be reviewed to ensure compliance; and The OSHA standards section 1910.178 need to be reviewed to determine your powered industrial trucks have the appropriate designation for the intended use environment.

ASA Education Foundation training in this area includes:  Basics: Forklift Re-Fueling Safety, Basics: Forklift Safety, Basics: Forklift Safety for Supervisors, and Forklift/Powered Industrial Truck Safety.

Another useful source of benchmarking data to compare your safety program performance against is the Bureau of Labor Statistics Incident Rate Data.  The most recent data is available for 2020. Below are some examples of Incidence Rates for several industry sectors associated with the wholesale/distribution industry.  

Readers are encouraged to visit the BLS website to review other industry sector Incident Rate data to see how you compare.  This is also a good time to remind those who are required to submit OSHA electronic form 300A data the deadline is March 2, 2022.   An additional reminder, as you are completing the form, don’t forget to submit your application for the ASA Safety Award which is based on the data from form 300A.  

ASA and the ASA Safety Committee are committed to assisting those responsible for workplace safety in providing a safe workplace environment to their employees.  We encourage you to visit the ASA Safety Web Page and the ASA Safety Training Courses webpage for more safety training programs offered through the ASA Education Foundation.

Jim Kendzel is the Director of Codes and Standards for the American Supply Association (ASA), which provides the Eye on Safety article each month. In addition, through a partnership agreement between ASA and HARDI, he also represents HARDI in codes and standards activities. He has over 40 years of experience in the development of codes and standards impacting the plumbing, HVAC and PVF markets.