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Analyzing the Top 10 most cited OSHA safety violations of 2020

Safety officer writing note on a checklist

For the 10th year in a row, workplace falls were the most frequent safety violation discovered by OSHA workers in the U.S., according to the agency’s most recent annual list of top 10 violation citations.

It’s a nationwide statistic, but one that touches close to home for our team at Vellner Law, PC - the Lehigh County community was struck by several tragic on-the-job falls in 2020.

All types of falls - from major construction site accidents to falls in the workplace - can end in serious injuries and, sometimes, death. To avoid having to pay catastrophic medical bills, any victim of a workplace accident should consult with an attorney about making a workers’ compensation claim.

Locally, in March of last year, a Pennsylvania telecommunications employee in Pottstown died when a passing step truck snagged the cable line he was working on and pulled him off a ladder.

In January, a locksmith died in Hanover after he tripped on the edge of a rug. When the man fell, he hit his head, fractured a vertebra, and died later at the hospital.

The National Safety Council and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued more than 5,400 citations in 2020 for an employer’s failure to meet general fall prevention requirements, according to the agency’s annual list of top 10 workplace safety violation citations.

2020’s Top 10 workplace safety violation citations

OSHA inspectors found thousands of workplace violations in 2020. Falls made two appearances on the list of most cited safety violations. The most cited violation is “fall protection, general requirements” and further down the list “fall protection, training requirements” ranks as well.

Here’s the national top 10 list and how many times businesses were cited by OSHA for that particular safety failure:

  • Fall protection, general requirements - 5,424 violations cited nationwide
  • Hazard communication - 3,199
  • Respiratory protection - 2,649
  • Scaffolding - 2,538
  • Ladders - 2,129
  • Lockout/tagout - 2,065
  • Powered industrial trucks - 1,932
  • Fall protection – training requirements - 1,621
  • Personal protective and lifesaving equipment – eye and face protection - 1,369
  • Machine guarding - 1,313

In its analysis, OSHA noted that its annual list often cites the same safety problems year after year.

Nonfatal workplace accidents

OSHA violations can result in workplace injuries to the back and neck, repetitive stress disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart attacks, toxic exposure, burns, electrocution, traumatic brain injury, amputation, spinal cord damage, loss of hearing or sight, and other injuries.

Workplace OSHA safety violations are not to be taken lightly by employers or employees, as highlighted by some recent cases. They can result in hefty fines for the employer and insurmountable medical debt for the victims.

Recently, local OSHA fines for safety violations include a $56,600 fine against an Allentown roofing, siding, and insulation material wholesaler that was cited in April 2020 for multiple alleged ladder/fall violations, and $300,000 in fines assessed to a national discount retailer that allegedly failed to protect Pennsylvania workers from hazardous materials and provide safe building exit routes. The retailer is fighting the charges.

We work hard when you need it most

If you were injured in a workplace accident, you’re most likely in pain, worried about your future, and full of questions. A work injury can completely upend your life. Will you be able to fully recover? Will you be able to return to work? Will you ever be able to do all the things you enjoyed before the accident? Who is going to pay for all of this?

If the insurance companies have their way, you are going to pay for it - physically, emotionally, and financially. Disputing claims and shortchanging victims is how the insurance industry makes billions of dollars in profit every year.

Don’t try to take on your employer’s insurance company lawyers all by yourself. It’s a great injustice that in the days after being seriously injured, you are expected to - without a law degree or any prior training - somehow force greedy insurance companies to do the right thing and pay for the benefits you deserve.

It’s this unlevel playing field that inspired attorney Anthony R. Vellner to open his practice 30 years ago. Today, Vellner Law fights to protect the hard-working people of Allentown, Bethlehem, and the rest of the Lehigh Valley.

Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation. We can go over your options and start working on your claim right away.

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