Top OSHA Violations: Analyzing Historical Data and Advocating for a Future Built on Safety


In October 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the top OSHA violations for fiscal year 2021 (October 2020–September 2021). Based on trends we’ve seen from the last several years, it is no surprise that this year’s top violations are nearly identical to data from last fiscal year.

Here are the top 10 OSHA violations for 2021:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements
  2. Respiratory Protection
  3. Ladders
  4. Scaffolding
  5. Hazard Communication
  6. Lockout/Tagout
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks
  10. Machine Guarding

Top 10 OSHA Violations for FY21

Top OSHA violations across the years

On average, we see most of these violations make the top 10 list every year. In fact, fall protection has qualified as the number one OSHA violation for 11 years in a row, and other violations have merely swapped positions in the top 10 list for the last several years.

For reference, here are the top OSHA violations for fiscal years 2017–21:

Top 10 OSHA Violations for 2017-2021


The biggest question today is: “If the top 10 violations are reoccurring year after year, why haven’t we done anything about it?” And the answer is simple — too many organizations are far too comfortable with “good enough.”

According to OSHA, there is only one compliance officer for every 70,000 workers, which makes it incredibly difficult to properly assess the performance of and enforce critical safety procedures. It is also common for organizations to feel as though they have addressed their regulatory compliance components and are in compliance with their health and safety programs, which can create a false sense of security as requirements continue to be altered.

While there is still major room for improvement in organizations’ health and safety programs, it’s important to highlight our progress. OSHA, state partners and the efforts of employers, safety and health professionals, unions and advocates have dramatically affected safety in the workplace. In the United States, average worker deaths have decreased from 38 deaths per day in 1970 to 15 per day in 2019. Additionally, worker injuries and illnesses have decreased from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to only 2.8 incidents per 100 workers in 2019. Let’s continue with this momentum in 2022 and beyond by following OSHA regulations and remaining proactive in identifying potential OSHA violations.


OSHA penalties

Following OSHA regulations will not only protect workers from preventable injuries and illnesses, but it will also help you avoid unnecessary monetary penalties.

The maximum penalty amounts for 2022 are:

  • Serious Other-Than-Serious Posting Requirements: $14,502
  • Failure to Abate: $14,502 per day beyond the abatement rate
  • Willful or Repeated: $145,027 per violation


What steps are you taking to promote workplace safety?

Most often, the injuries, illnesses and deaths that occur in the workplace are preventable. Use OSHA’s list of top 10 violations as a guide to take the steps needed to find and fix recognized hazards before OSHA makes an appearance on your site.

What improvements are you pursuing to increase your employees’ safety and reduce OSHA violations today?


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