This has been a very different year for the occupational safety and health profession because of COVID-19. Among the changes: The pandemic has affected the top violations OSHA issues to employers.

OSHA released its preliminary numbers at the National Safety Council’s Congress and Expo. OSHA Director of Enforcement, Patrick Kapust, provided the list and some details on the exact violation inspectors are seeing and in which types of employment:

  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 protection 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.


Kapust said there were more respiratory protection violations in healthcare-related industries due to the pandemic, which pushed that violation higher on the list than in previous years. Industries where silica exposure is more prevalent, have also been susceptible to respiratory protection violations. “There are still air contaminants out there other than biological hazards that employers need to make sure employees are protected against,” Kapust said.

Overall, the number of inspections and violations issued by OSHA in FY 2021 decreased compared to the previous year. Kapust says that’s also due to the pandemic, but he cautions that “We are still on the job, we still do inspections.” He did add that inspection resources have shifted to workplaces where COVID-19 hazards are more likely to exist.

These numbers are for FY 2021, which ran from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021. The figures are preliminary and will be updated later this year.

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About the Author

Jon Knight

Jon Knight leads the NASP Team’s media creation department. He has been involved with workplace safety training since 2017 with a focus on course creation. He also provides video production and voiceovers for NASP content.
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