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By: Kendall Jones on October 8th, 2021

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Top 10 OSHA Standards Violations Cited for Construction in 2021

Construction Safety

We’ve compiled the list of Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for Construction for fiscal year 2021 (October 2020 through September 2021).

Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards from the previous fiscal year. By releasing the list, OSHA hopes to bring greater awareness to the standards most commonly cited for violations to help employers focus their efforts to make workplaces safer for employees.

The list OSHA provides covers all industries, so it doesn’t provide much insight into which standards are most cited for a specific industry, like construction. OSHA also has separate sets of standards with different rules to control safety concerns for the construction, agriculture, and maritime industries, in addition to their General Industry standards.

Lucky for us, OSHA has a website where you can search the Frequently Cited OSHA Standards by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes as well as establishment size and by federal or state jurisdiction.

Below is the Top 10 Frequently Cited OSHA Standards for Construction using NAICS Code 23 for the 2021 fiscal year. Included are the title, standard number, the Top 10 ranking from the previous year, and the number of citations issued.

Top 10 Frequently Cited OSHA Standards for Construction

1. Subpart Title: Fall Protection
Standard Number: 1926.501
Title: Duty to have fall protection.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 1
Number of Citations: 4,279

2. Subpart Title: Ladders
Standard Number: 1926.1053
Title: Ladders.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 3
Number of Citations: 1,602

3. Subpart Title: Scaffolds
Standard Number: 1926.451
Title: General requirements.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 2
Number of Citations: 1,468

4. Subpart Title: Fall Protection
Standard Number: 1926.503
Title: Training requirements.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 4
Number of Citations: 1,356

5. Subpart Title: Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment
Standard Number: 1926.102
Title: Eye and face protection.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 5
Number of Citations: 1,209

6. Subpart Title: Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment
Standard Number: 1926.100
Title: Head protection.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 7
Number of Citations: 651

7. Subpart Title: General Safety and Health Provisions
Standard Number: 1926.20
Title: General safety and health provisions.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 6
Number of Citations: 648

8. Subpart Title: Scaffolds
Standard Number: 1926.453
Title: Aerial lifts.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 10
Number of Citations: 436

9. Subpart Title: Excavations
Standard Number: 1926.651
Title: Specific excavation requirements.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 8
Number of Citations: 391

10. Subpart Title: Fall Protection
Standard Number: 1926.502
Title: Fall protection systems criteria and practices.
FY2020 Top 10 Rank: 9
Number of Citations: 343

Note: The data FY2020 rank is current as of April 8, 2021. The data for position and number of citations for FY2020 is current as of October 8, 2021. 

Key Takeaways

The FY2021 list is nearly identical to the FY2020 list in terms of which citations made the Top 10.

In fact, the list has been fairly consistent for years, with most of the same standards topping the list for citations year in and year out. Employers should take note of this list and try and incorporate this in their safety training and toolbox talks.

Violations for standards revolving around fall hazards continue to dominate the list, which isn’t surprising since falls are the leading cause of construction worker deaths every year. Six of the 10 standards making the list had to do with fall protection, ladders, and scaffolding.

Avoidable, Yet Costly, Safety Violations

In addition to the very real possibility that violating OSHA standards can easily lead to accidents, injuries, and even death, these citations cost the construction industry millions of dollars each year.

OSHA handed down 16,749 citations from 6,624 inspections in FY2021 to construction companies, totaling $58,691,406 in penalties. These numbers are lower than in FY2020, but these numbers are preliminary because not everything has been reported this close to the end of the last fiscal year.

Remember, OSHA standards are the bare minimum of what construction firms should be doing to protect workers. Be sure to check out our 10 Construction Site Safety Tips that address how to protect workers from hazards created when these standards are violated.

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About Kendall Jones

Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.