It’s time once again to look back at the year that was and, perhaps, gain perspective on the year ahead. And a handy tool for doing just that is the humble list.

During the final quarter of each year, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

OSHA’s top 10 most cited OSHA violations of 2016 cover a broad range of workplace safety categories, from falls to chemicals and from personal protective equipment to fork trucks.

One way to look at the following list is to consider it as a starting point for addressing safety at work:
1. Fall protection (1926.501, 6,929 violations)
2. Hazard communication (1910.1200, 5,677 violations):
3. Scaffolding (1926.451, 3,906 violations):
4. Respiratory protection (1910.134, 3,585 violations)
5. Lockout/tagout (1910.147, 3,414 violations)
6. Powered industrial trucks, i.e. forklifts (1910.178, 2,800 violations):
7. Ladders (1926.1053, 2,639 violations
8. Machine guarding (1910.212, 2,451 violations)
9. Electrical wiring methods (1910.305, 1,940 violations):
10. Electrical general requirements (1910.303, 1,704 violations)

One of the more salient points about that list is that rankings change little from year to year.

According to OSHA, more than 4,500 workers die on the job each year, and approximately 3 million are injured. This, the agency wrote in a recent blog post, is “despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.”

With that in mind, OSHA recently updated its Guidelines for Safety and Health Programs (available at The agency said the guidelines, first published three decades, now reflect changes that have taken place the economy, workplaces, and evolving safety and health issues. The new section on Recommended Practices is aimed at use in a variety of small and medium-sized business settings, the agency said.