The 10 Most Cited OSHA Standards in 2021

By Published On: January 31, 2022

It’s important to learn from the past, whether that is our own mistakes or from those around us. As the federal government agency for enforcing workplace safety, OSHA publishes a list of the previous years citations making those lessons a little easier to see.

Looking back at the fiscal year October 2020 – September 2021, we can see the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards. This information can be very useful to tailor your companies safety program and training.

This report is based on Federal OSHA citations, not including citations from states that run their own jurisdiction. There are 27 state-run programs, and while they cover the majority of work in their state, Federal OSHA does still exist for government properties and entities.

1. Duty to have fall protection

Inspections: 5,150

Citations: 5,282

*Basically, no fall protection on site. (i.e. a roofer with no harness or lanyards on site)

2. Ladders

Inspections: 1,713

Citations: 2,017

*Damaged ladders or improper set up and use.

3. General Requirements

Inspections: 972

Citations: 1,947

*Commonly a lack of paperwork, worksite posters, or missing signage.

4. Training Requirements

Inspections: 1,578

Citations: 1,639

*Citation given to business owner for not providing proper training and equipment to employees. (i.e. forklift certification for operator)

5. Eye and Face Protection

Inspections: 1,438

Citations: 1,444

6. General Safety and Health Provisions

Inspections: 769

Citations: 817

7. Head Protection

Inspections: 811

Citations: 812

*Hard hats are required any time there is an overhead danger present.

8. Specific Excavation Requirements

Inspections: 320

Citations: 518

*Often this is for trenching, lack of shoring/shielding/cave-in protection.

9. Areal Lifts

Inspections: 467

Citations: 515

*Missing fall protection, certification, or training.

10. Hazard Communications

Inspections: 242

Citations: 482

*Incorrect or missing labels on chemicals (i.e. cleaning products in smaller unmarked bottles)

In total, OSHA conducted 8,444 inspections which resulted in 21,520 citations at a cost of $76.6 million.

The OSH Act was passed in 1970 to promote workplace safety and reduce injuries and illness. it is with the best intentions that they inspect and enforce the standards. Without them, workplaces get out of control, people get hurt or fired, insurance and workman’s comp go through the roof, and everyone loses. We encourage you to take this information and use it for good.


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