The top 5 fall protection (OSHA) violations in 2017


As you might be used from us, every year we take an in-depth look at what the most cited violations within the OSHA standard were for the past fiscal year. By the end of last year (2017) we already showed you the top-10 violations for that year with the remarkable addition of Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) at number 9.

This new addition to the top-10 will be reviewed in our next blog, for now let’s take a good look at, again, the overall number 1 for 2017: Fall Protection – General Requirements (1026.501).

Given the fact that nearly 45% of the total number of citations are work-at-height-related, we can conclude that our work as an expert in safety solutions is far from done. Therefore XSPlatforms will keep fighting to minimize the number of fall accidents, not only in the United States, but worldwide by providing our world-class fall protection systems and spreading our vision and knowledge through our various articles.

Fall Protection – General Requirements (1026.501)

For the past 7 years the violations within this standard has stood on top of the OSHA’s yearly top-10 list. Although the total number of citations has dropped significantly over the past years, with 6,887 citations in 2017 it still rules as a solid number 1 on the list.

In comparison with the previous year the total number of violations within this standard has dropped with 19 citations, from 6,906 in 2016 to 6,887 in 2017. A good thing for sure, but comparing these type of numbers there cannot really be spoken of a significant decrease.

Top-5 citations

Unlike the movement between the violations within the overall top 10, the top 5 of fall protection violations hasn’t really changed. The positions 1 to 5 remain occupied by “the usual suspects”.

#1 Residential construction

What we do notice is that that four of the five violation types have dropped in citations. This would have brought down the total significantly wasn’t it for the number 1 most cited violation type; 1926.501(b)(13) – Residential construction. An increase of nearly 11.5% in citations brings this to new total of 4,252 citations.

Related Content

Regulations from government institutes such as OSHA require that a fall protection plan (in written form) must be available for all involved workers. We are happy to explain on how to compose this fall protection plan and provide you with a free template of a rescue plan in this XSLibrary item.

Practice rescue situations

#2 Unprotected sides/edges

The second ranked violation in this top-5 can also be easily related to the construction industry since most sites will have loads of open (and unprotected) edges. If temporary edge protection has not been applied yet, workers should always be required to protect themselves against a possible fall by means of fall protection PPE.

The increase of inspections, as well as the growing awareness of fall hazards amongst construction workers make it possible for this specific violation to drop by 226 citations; making up for a total of 1,052 citations in the fiscal year of 2017.

Related Content

One of the fastest ways ensure that unprotected sides and edges are properly taken care of is by the installation of a guardrail system. The various types and configurations of XSGuardrails are explained here.

#3 Roofing work on low-slope roofs

In this part of the regulation – 1926.501(b)(10) – OSHA permits the use of warning lines and safety monitoring systems during roofing work on low-sloped roofs. If you ask us, from a safety point of view, this is not the most desirable solution. But, after all, the numbers of this type of violations has dropped too. From 625 citations in 2016, to 558 citations in 2017. Saving at least 67 lives of workers in this year.

#4 Steep roofs

An inclined angle of a roof brings many dangers, a worker can easily misstep on for example a roof tile and fall further down due to the steepness of the roof. Although the OSHA 1926.501 standard states that when workers enter a steep roof with unprotected sides/edges, they must always be protected from falling, this rule is often ignored by contractors.

This makes us glad to see that the awareness must have grown the past year, resulting in a reduction of the citations number by 39 cited violations. Bringing the total of 2017 to 484 citations.

Related Content

Want to learn more about the challenges and fall protection solutions for (low and steep) sloped roofs? Read it in our specified article on this subject here.

#5 Holes and skylights

The danger of working around skylights isn’t always known amongst workers. They create a common fall hazard that should be considered when work is done on a (flat) roof with these type of objects. Of course, the danger of falling through a skylight is less obvious than that of falling off the roof edge, but nonetheless these skylights must be protected against falls at all times. Either by means of pre-protected skylights or external fall protection solutions such as guardrails, single anchor points or horizontal lifeline systems.

The fact that this risk is still a problem can be seen in the low number decrease in citations the past year. Moving slowly from 154 citations in 2016 to 143 citations in 2017 – a decrease of 11 cited violations.

Related Content

How to prevent dangerous falls through a skylight? XSPlatforms has summarized the potential dangers and fall protection options in this article.


Just like last year we have gathered all the numbers regarding the top-5 fall protection violations in one clear poster. You can download our latest infographic here, to share it with your clients or co-workers and make them more aware of the fact that working at height always needs to be carried out safely.

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