The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released the list of frequently cited standard violations in the construction industry for 2019. Among the top ten, taking first place again this year is fall protection followed by scaffolds and ladders.

There were more than 28,000 citations in the construction industry for the year, with the total cost of penalties reaching more than $90 million.

In the nonresidential building construction industry, the total citations are approximately 1,490 with a cost of about $4.3 million.

The penalties here reflect current, rather than initial, amounts.

The top ten most frequently cited standard violations for construction during the period of October 2018 through September 2019, are as follows:

  1. Duty to have fall protection (1926.501) with 6,514 citations;
  2. Scaffolds (1926.451) with 2,965 citations;
  3. Ladder (1926.1053) with 2,593 citations;
  4. Training requirements for fall protection (1926.503) with 1,939 citations;
  5. Eye and face protection (1926.102) with 1,554 citations;
  6. General safety and health provisions (1926.20) with 968 citations;
  7. Head protection (1926.100) with 914 citations;
  8. Specific excavation requirements (1926.651) with 770 citations;
  9. Ariel lifts (1926.453) with 742 citations; and
  10. Fall protection systems criteria and practices (1926.502) with 686 citations.

The rankings and number of citations represent the current rates displayed on OSHA’s website as of December 12.

For the nonresidential building sector, the top citations were for duty to have fall protection; scaffolds; aerial lifts; ladders; fall protection systems criteria and practices; wiring methods, components and equipment for general use; respiratory protection; general safety and health provisions; and training requirements.

Since fall protection is the most cited violation of workplace safety, OSHA standards require that fall protection be provided at elevations of 6 feet for the construction industry and when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

Fall protection consists of the following standards according to OSHA:

  • Guard every floor hole into which a worker can accidentally walk (using a railing and toe-board or a floor hole cover).
  • Provide a guard rail and toe-board around every elevated open sided platform, floor or runway.
  • Regardless of height, if a worker can fall into or onto dangerous machines or equipment (such as a vat of acid or a conveyor belt) employers must provide guardrails and toe-boards to prevent workers from falling and getting injured.
  • Other means of fall protection that may be required on certain jobs include safety harness and line, safety nets, stair railings and handrails.