When it comes to OSHA (Occupational, Safety, and Health Administration) compliance, it can be difficult for many maintenance and operations managers to know where to start.

Patrick Kapust, Deputy Directory of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, argued that taking a look at common OSHA violations can be a good place to begin. For example, you can ask yourself would OSHA find these violations in your workplace? Check out these 5 OSHA violations and how you can avoid them in your facilities.

1. Fall Protection and Scaffolding

OSHA Regulations: 29 CFR 1926.501 and 29 CFR 1926.451

Common reasons for this violation

  • Open and unprotected side/edges especially in residential construction
  • Inadequate fall protection on low-slope roofs, steep roofs, holes and
  • skylights
  • Using cross-braces as a means of access
  • Scaffolds are not fully planked or decked

How to prevent it

  • Provide adequate fall protection: Pay special attention to guardrails, safety nets, and personal fall-protection systems, fall-arrest systems, positioning systems, and travel-restraint systems.
  • Also, include safety harnesses, safety nets, stair railings, and hand rails where appropriate
  • Train (and document training) employees on:
    • Walking and work-surface hazards
    • Fall-protection procedures
    • Personal protective equipment
    • How to use ladders, scaffolding, powered platforms, and lifts

2. Hazard communication

OSHA Regulation: 29 CFR 1910.1200

Common reasons for this violation

  • Lack of a documented hazard communication program including safety datasheets
  • Lack of labels on hazardous materials
  • Inadequate training for employees on how to handle hazardous chemicals
  • Lack of protective equipment

How to prevent it

  • Create and maintain a communication program regarding hazardous chemicals:
    • Maintain a labeling system
    • Provide necessary safety datasheets
    • Explain which chemicals are used in the workplace and their toxicity information, permissible exposure limits, reactivity, corrosivity, etc.
  • Provide annual training on:
    • How to detect the presence of a hazardous substance and how to protect themselves if one is detected, including the use of protective equipment
    • Potential health problems caused by chemicals used in the work place
    • Where to find information about hazardous chemicals (the communication program) including what labels refer to and safety datasheets
  • Provide the necessary protective equipment for face, eyes, hands, etc.

3. Respiratory Protection

OSHA Regulation: 29 CFR 1910.134

Common reasons for this violation

  • Lack of documented respiratory protection program
  • Inadequate or undocumented training on respiratory protection procedures
  • Lack of adequate respiratory protection equipment including if the provided respirators do not fit properly.

How to prevent it

  • Inspect your workplace and identify any respiratory hazards including insufficient oxygen environments, hazardous dust, fog, smoke, mists, vapors, and sprays.
  • Create and document a respiratory protection program that outlines what respiratory precautions employees must take and in which areas of your workplace, and provide training on this program.
  • Provide and maintain proper protective equipment such as respirators and test to make sure that all protective equipment fits each employee properly.
  • Provide training on the use of this protective equipment.
  • Provide and document the OSHA respirator medical evaluation questionnaire.

4. Lockout / Tagout

OSHA Regulation: 29 CFR 1910.147

Lockout/Tagout is used to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery (and therefore the release of hazardous energy). When maintenance is being performed on a machine it is “locked or tagged out”, meaning that no one can/ should attempt to operate it.

Common reasons for this violation

  • No lockout/tagout procedures in place
  • Lack of documentation of lockout/tagout procedures
  • Lack of training on potential hazardous energy sources/machinery and proper lockout/tagout procedures
  • No documentation of periodic inspections of lockout/tagout procedures

How to prevent it

  • Documenting and training on lockout/tagout procedures. Employees should be aware when they are working in an area where maintenance is being performed on equipment that is locked or tagged out. They should also be aware that they should not attempt to restart equipment that is locked out or tagged out.
  • Including lockout and tagout procedures as part of standard training of servicing electrical and HVAC systems

Fun fact: Using Lockout/Tagout can prevent an estimated 120 fatalities
and 50,000 injuries each year.


Most managers provide sufficient safety equipment and have outlined the proper procedures for safe operations with publicized workplace safety tips and guidelines. No one wants their team members or other employees to get hurt. Most of the time, the reason managers receive citations is due to insufficient documentation and training.

Providing training

OSHA requires that each employer maintain the following in their records: the identity of the employee, the date of training, and the means used to verify that the employee understood the training. You’ll also need to document whether they’ve received the required refresher training.

Documenting programs, plans, and procedures

You’ll also need a place to document your programs, plans, and procedures where employees can easily access them.

CMMS software can help you better prevent these violations by reminding you of preventive maintenance tasks and storing important information for equipment. Learn more about the benefits of a CMMS and how it can help you achieve compliance.


Casavant, D. (2010, March 01). Worker Safety: The 10 Most Common OSHA Violations – Facility Management Maintenance & Operations Feature. Retrieved November 09, 2017.

Camplin, J. C. (2008, October 01). Complying with OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Standards – Facility Management Material Handling Feature. Retrieved November 09, 2017.

Copeland, J. (2016, July 20). Top Ten OSHA Violations and How to Avoid Them. Retrieved November 09, 2017.

Camplin, J. C. (2008, November 01). OSHA Standard Requires Annual Hazmat Training – Facility Management Maintenance & Operations Feature. Retrieved November 09, 2017.

Matt, C. (2011, April 12). OSHA: Expanding Role in the Workplace – Facility Management Maintenance & Operations Feature. Retrieved November
09, 2017.

Musick, T. (2016, November 26). OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Violations for 2016. Retrieved November 09, 2017.

Breaking: OSHA announces top 10 violations for FY 2017. (2017, September 26). Retrieved November 09, 2017.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2017.

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