OSHA’s Top 10 Safety Violations List for Fiscal Year 2021

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… at least that’s how the song goes. Festivities aside, it is the perfect time to evaluate safety in your workplace and make resolutions for improvement in 2022. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced its preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for the fiscal year 2021, which runs from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. The release of this annual list coincides with an initiative all companies should implement: to conduct a year-end review of your safety policies and procedures. The OSHA Top 10 list provides an excellent starting point for identifying areas to evaluate as you refine your 2022 safety program.

OSHA’s top 10 list contains few surprises, with Fall Protection in the number-one spot for the 11th year in a row. The good news is, there were slightly fewer Fall Protection violations in 2021 than there were in 2020. In fact, the total number of violations of all top 10 standards combined fell from 24,550 in 2020 to 21,092 in 2021.

Scott Margolin, Vice President of Technical, discusses this year’s list, which spotlights persistent problems employers and workers should look for:


Shift in 2021 Safety Violation Rankings:

There are no new categories on this year’s list, but the order of the most frequently cited standards has been rearranged. Hazard Communication made the most significant change, dropping from number 2 in 2020 to number 5 in 2021. Lockout/Tagout, number 6 this year, and PPE at number 8 are on the top 10 list virtually every year.

Below is the complete Top 10 list for the fiscal year 2021 and the number of OSHA citations for each standard:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations
  2. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527 violations
  3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026 violations
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948 violations
  5. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947 violations
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698 violations
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666 violations
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452 violations
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420 violations
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113 violations

Leverage OSHA’s Top 10 List to Improve Your Worker Safety Programs

How can companies use OSHA’s annual Top 10 list to improve their safety programs for the coming year? Some general ideas are listed below to help you begin:

  • Review each category on the list as it pertains to your workplace to identify potential hazards, ensure compliance, and evaluate the effectiveness of your company’s safety training.
  • Take a deeper dive by using the “Industry Profile for an OSHA Standard” lookup tool on OSHA’s website to uncover the top safety violations cited in your specific industry.
  • Evaluate your company’s past and present safety record and take steps to reduce hazards in your particular workplace and ensure compliance with OSHA and applicable safety standards.
  • Don’t forget to solicit feedback from your workers to identify any new potential hazards or gaps in training.
  • Address any inadequacies or new challenges by developing measurable training objectives to improve your program.

This is the fourth year in a row that an electrical-related hazard has not appeared on the Top 10 list, so once again, this is excellent news for the electrical industry. But since it’s estimated that there are roughly 30,000 arc-flash incidents per year—resulting in an estimated 400 fatalities per year—we can’t let down our guard when it comes to protecting workers from this very real danger. The FR Safety Resource Hub on TyndaleUSA.com is a great place to educate you and your employees on the arc-rated (AR) and flame resistant (FR) clothing required to stay safe on the job.

For more information on OSHA’s Top 10 Safety Violations list, visit NSC’s newsroom to read the entire press release: https://www.nsc.org/newsroom/osha-reveals-top-10-safety-violations-for-fy-21-at

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