Top 10 Most Frequently Cited OSHA Safety Violations of 2017

A highlight of the 2017 NSC Congress & Expo, was the OSHA release of its 10 most cited safety violations of 2017. There were 28,774 violations for the year. The list highlights the most common safety and security pain points found at construction sites, utility plants, and other potentially hazardous occupational environments.

While many of the violations are well known safety challenges, it is certainly worth noting their prevalence in certain industries.

“The frustrating part is that they’re all very preventable,” says Ben Jakubovic, CPP, PSP, CYBRA’s Safety and Security Solutions Architect who works on the company’s Edgefinity IoT Safety & Security solution.

“It’s easy for people to get lax about some of the OSHA rules and protocols. That’s why our safety and security product, Edgefinity IoT, tracks the events that can slip through the cracks, and cause these violations,” concludes Jakubovic.

Here are the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards of 2017:

1. Fall Protection; General Requirements

Dangerous falls are the most common type of fatal injuries facing construction workers, and 2017 was no exception. Falls accounted for 814 injuries including 133 fatalities in 2017, according to OSHA’s injury database. Falls were responsible for 6,072 OSHA safety violations – over 20% the 28,774 recorded violations in 2017.

Falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, and are often caused by misuse of equipment such as using the wrong ladder, or insufficient safety precautions such as not using a harness. Over a third of fatal falls occur at a height of just 15 feet or less.  Edgefinity IoT detects hazardous falls automatically and instantly alerts safety personnel.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT can help prevent fatal falls by sensing when a person ascends a ladder or other piece of equipment without the required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). If a fall does occur Edgefinity IoT can generate an instant alert to call for help.

2. Hazard Communication

With 4,176 safety violations, hazard communication is a very common problem. Hazard communication issues can account for welder injuries, burns or explosions.

The challenge in hazard communication for employers is to ensure labels and safety data sheets are clearly in view workers exposed to hazardous chemicals and environments. And, to properly train workers to handle the chemicals appropriately.

OSHA Standards: All employers with hazardous chemicals in their workplaces must have labels and safety data sheets for their exposed workers, and train them to handle the chemicals appropriately.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

A staff member entering an unsafe area without proper training and/or PPE will receive an alert – optionally his supervisor as well.

3. Scaffolding

According to OSHA, an estimated 2.3 million construction workers, or 65% of workers in the construction industry work on scaffolds. Proper use of safety equipment is vital when using and setting up scaffolds. In 2017, there were 3,288 safety violations involving scaffolds.

4,500 injuries and over 60 deaths occur each year on scaffolds according to Bureau Labor Statistics (BLS). Yet, according to OSHA, approximately only 33% of scaffolds are installed with guardrails, and approximately 25% of workers had no training in proper scaffold installation and inspection.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Similarly to how the system handles fall protection, Edgefinity IoT can help prevent scaffold incidents by sensing when a person ascends a ladder or other piece of equipment without the required PPE.

4. Respiratory Protection

An estimated 5 million workers are required to wear respirators in 1.3 million workplaces in the US.

Compliance with the OSHA respiratory protection standard could avert hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses annually. Respirators protect workers against insufficient oxygen environments, harmful dusts, smokes, gases, and sprays. Unfortunately, there were 3,097 respiration protection safety violations in 2017.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT can require environment-specific PPE depending on the location entered or the identity of the hazardous airborne substance actually present when using additional sensors.

5. Lockout/Tagout

There were 2,877 safety violations cited that violated OSHA’s Lockout/Tagout standard. Compliance with lockout & tagout standards prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

Craft workers, electricians, machine operators, and laborers are among the 3 million workers who service equipment routinely and face the risk of injury or death. If hazardous energy such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, or thermal is not properly controlled, these workers are exposed to extremely dangerous circumstances. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT can alert when a lock/tag is removed by an unauthorized person.

6. Ladders

In 2017, there were a total of 196 occupational injuries from ladders. 25 of these injuries resulted in death. As well, there were 2,241 safety violations concerning ladders.

The reason ladder accidents are of the most common is not simply falling from large heights, but actually from workers falling onto dangerous machinery. The use of safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and hand rails, can greatly curb the hazard of working on ladders.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT can enforce the requirement for a second person at the ladder’s bottom.

7. Powered Industrial Trucks

There were a total of 2,162 OSHA violations connected to powered industrial trucks such as forklifts. There are almost 1 million forklifts in the US. 11% of these will be involved in an accident.

Each year in the US, nearly 100,000 workers are seriously injured in forklift related incidents, including 85 fatalities.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT mobile unit can prevent truck staring if a driver lacks proper training.

8. Machine Guarding

50% of all amputations occur in the manufacturing sector. Stationary and portable machinery is the primary cause of the amputations.

1,933 total safety violations were concerned with machine guarding. The purpose of machine guarding is to protect the machine operator and other employees in the work area from hazards created by ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.

Some examples of this are barrier guards, light curtains, two-hand operating devices etc. According to OSHA, 49% of the injuries from mechanical power presses resulted in amputation. There were 119 accidents in 2017 from table saws, as well.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT geofence alerts when untrained person(s) approaches dangerous machines.

9. Fall Protection; Training Requirements

1,523 fall protection training requirement violations were cited in 2017. Falls in general were the most common workplace violation in 2017, and a very common accident at construction sites. Whether it is a fall from a ladder, or a fall onto something dangerous, falls are very common injuries. The US Department of Labor lists falls as a leading cause of traumatic death, accounting for 8% of all work fatalities from trauma.

Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. 364 out of 937 total deaths in construction in 2015 were a result of a fatal fall.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT sounds alerts, and routes logged event to supervisor if untrained person stars to ascend.

10. Electronic Wiring Methods

Faulty electrical wiring methods accounted for 1,405 violations – down from 1,937 in 2016. Frequent violations include improper use of extension cords.

Electrocutions account for nearly 10% of the fatal four most common workplace fatalities. Common citations include setting up electrical equipment in wet, damp, or hazardous environments, usage of damaged electrical equipment, and unauthorized or untrained employees using potentially dangerous equipment.

How Edgefinity IoT Can Help

Edgefinity IoT sounds alert and routes logged event to supervisor if no properly trained person is present when panel is opened.


Built on CYBRA’s expert system technology, Edgefinity IoT baseline alerts were developed utilizing the latest in RFID and RTLS (Real Time Tracking Systems) capabilities. Contact an RFID safety and security expert today to see how our technology can improve your organizational safety efforts.

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