2020’s Top 5 OSHA Violations in Manufacturing & Key Learnings from Them


Compliance with OSHA Standard 1910 standards is mandatory for all the organizations to whom OSHA is applicable, barring, of course, those standards that are specifically not applicable to a particular industry.

Each of these OSHA standards protects the health and well-being of the workers from different elements involved in workplaces. It is the responsibility of the employers to implement them diligently. Unfortunately, despite OSHA and other regulators’ strict compliance enforcement, many of these standards are frequently violated.

Before we look into these common OSHA violations, it would be pertinent to cast light on the detrimental consequences of non-compliance. This would, in turn, help in appreciating the gravity of the seriousness of OSHA violations.

Consequences of Non-Compliance with OSHA Standards

The Federal US agency levies five-figure fines for violating workplace health and safety laws. Moreover, once OSHA has discovered an issue, they’ll set you a deadline to fix it. If you do not resolve the problem by the deadline, you may be subject to the same penalty each day that the problem remains unresolved. 

Oh, and if OSHA finds you guilty of a willful or repeated violation, you might be fined ten times as much: $134,937. But these are payable. What isn’t, are:

For the Workers

  1. Fatalities, injuries, or permanent body impairment
  2. Short-term or long-term health problems
  3. Stressful work environment
  4. Loss of productivity and morale

For the Employers

  1. Hefty penalties by OSHA and other regulators
  2. Legal and compliance fees
  3. Heavy insurance premium
  4. Worker compensation claims
  5. OSHA inspections or audits
  6. Loss of reputation

Long story short, OSHA violations definitely cannot be taken lightly. Considering the nature of work and hazards involved, OSHA has set more stringent compliance for certain sectors – the manufacturing industry is one. 

This sector covers many manufacturing industries such as chemical, metal, cement, textiles, food, plastic, etc. Many of the processes involved herein can be dangerous for the health and safety of the workers involved. Therefore, any OSHA violations have to be critically addressed.

Top 5 OSHA Violations of 2020 in the Manufacturing Sector and Key Takeaways

Below are the top 5 standards that the manufacturing sector has most commonly violated during 2020. The purpose of OSHA behind issuing such a list year-on-year is multifold – it serves as a warning lesson, as well as a learning one: 

1. Fall Protection

OSHA Standard: 1926.501  

With more than 5000 reported violations in 2020, ‘Fall Protection’ tops the frequently violated OSHA norms list. Although the manufacturing sector does not have to deal with extreme work locations like the construction sector, the absence of basic fall protection measures has had severe consequences – even fatalities in some cases.


  • Employees should be provided with good quality fall protection gear such as harnesses as a part of their PPE kits.
  • Fall arrest systems such as safety nets and rails should be installed across the workplace.
  • Workers should be trained in the use of fall protection equipment.

2. Hazard Communication

OSHA Standard: 1910.1200

This particular standard mandates that all employers are supposed to make their employees aware of any hazardous chemicals that they may be exposed to at the manufacturing workplace.

Failure to sensitize employees can result in improper handling, movement, or use of these dangerous chemicals. This poses a massive threat to the health and safety of the employees. In FY 2020, 3,199 violations were noted. 


  • Regular Hazard Communication training to be conducted.
  • Creating detailed Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for every chemical used at the workplace.
  • Distinct labeling of hazardous chemicals.

3. Respiratory Protection

OSHA Standard: 1910.134

Manufacturing processes can involve release of harmful airborne elements such as fumes, gases, smoke, etc. Inhaling these can cause the workers multiple respiratory and other health problems, ranging from asthma and bronchitis to cancer!

It has been observed that employers frequently violate adherence to the detailed protocol in place to prevent hazards from airborne pollutants. For example, OSHA noted two thousand six hundred forty-nine respiratory violations in FY2020. 


  • Proper respirators should be available to those employees likely to get exposed to contaminated air or those operating from a workplace with a limited oxygen supply.
  • It should be ensured that these respirators are of good quality, fit perfectly, and are routinely inspected.
  • Medical examination of employees should be conducted before assigning them jobs that require respiratory protection.

4. Ladders

OSHA Standard: 1926.1053

Using the wrong type of ladder for a particular job, not using collapsible ladders correctly, using ladders for unintended purposes, or simply not inspecting ladders for damage before use are some of the most common causes of accidents caused due to ladders.

OSHA has listed several norms for proper usage and maintenance of ladders, which are often overlooked. This can result in a lot of dangerous slips and falls or even death. Last year, 2,129 ladder violations were recorded. 


  • Ladders should be adequately built, with level steps and uniform spacing between rungs.
  • Ladders should be kept dry and regularly inspected.
  • Adequate training should be provided to employees regarding usage and maintenance.

5. Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout)

OSHA Standard: 1910.147

Ever so frequently, it is seen that the specific shutdown procedures of heavy machinery are not followed. These machines have explicit processes to disable them altogether when their use is stopped for servicing and maintenance. If these procedures are not followed, it can result in the emission of harmful chemicals or gases from the machinery, which poses a huge threat to those in the vicinity. 

For equipment where chemical leakages are not a concern, other hazardous energy forms may be released if the equipment is not adequately depowered for equipment where chemical leakages are not a concern. Last year, OSHA recorded 2,065 lockout/ Tagout cases. 


  • Employees should be trained to understand the end-to-end shutdown procedures.
  • Machinery being serviced should be labeled with clear Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) tags.
  • All sources of hazardous energies have to be identified, and employees should be sensitized regarding them.

Key Takeaway

Ensuring compliance with OSHA standards is not an option. Money is at stake, reputation is at stake, and most importantly, lives are at stake. But ensuring zero incidents and zero OSHA violations is no easy feat – which is why it makes things easier to have the proper inspection tool on board!

With Pulse, you can monitor compliance at your workplace in the most efficient and seamless manner. The state-of-art software makes crucial, yet time-consuming and prone-to-error auditing a breeze, super-efficient and fast. 

Conduct remote inspections, get timely alerts, generate reports, and analyze results with the help of state-of-the-art AI technology – all at the click of your finger. So leave the compliance to us, and focus on your core area of business. Try our free demo today to see the difference.