Machine Safety – One of OSHA’s Most-Cited Violations!

in Machine Safety Blog by
Man working on a lathe without machine safety.

OSHA’s list of the top ten most-cited violations for 2017 included machine safety as one of their top three. If you thought OSHA was going to brush this under the rug, cross their fingers, and hope that everyone would start doing better, well… Sorry, but you were wrong.

Machine safety compliance has been a major issue on OSHA’s top ten list since 2014, when it broke into the fourth position. Machine safety has advanced in leaps and bounds since then, but it hit the list again in 2021, this time just barely squeaking into the 10th position.

It kind of feels like spending hours working on the class project, yet failing anyway because everyone else was goofing off. But it’s not like you could have done anything about it, right?


The fact of the matter is that machine safety is everyone’s responsibility, and we all need to work together to keep it off of OSHA’s radar. Upholding safety standards and guarding machines are the bare minimum when it comes to machine safety compliance and something that we can all accomplish with a bit of care and awareness.

What is OSHA?

OSHA is a U.S. organization whose primary focus is to protect employees from dangerous working conditions. OSHA oversees four groups of standards: general industry, construction, maritime, and agricultural standards.

Aside from machine safety, the worst offenders on OSHA’s 2021 most-cited violations list include infractions for improper eye and face protection, hazard communication, scaffolding, and respiratory protection. The award that nobody wants to win, that for the biggest safety offender of 2021, went to fall protection, with a total of 5,295 recorded violations.

That’s a lot of people playing Russian Roulette with their lives.


Fall Protection Violations

$7.5 Million

Infraction Penalties

How is OSHA’s Top Ten List of Safety Violations Calculated?

It’s a lot less complicated than you think.

OSHA bases its top ten list on inspections that resulted in citations. It then tallies the number of violations for each standard and ranks them accordingly. OSHA uses this information to determine which standards they should prioritize training for during OSHA compliance meetings and safety orientations.

2020 and 2021 marked an unusual couple of years as far as workplace safety inspections are concerned, with OSHA issuing 592 coronavirus-related citations alone. The cost of these infractions added up to a staggering $7.5 million in penalties throughout the OSHA inspection season from October 1st, 2020 to October 1st, 2021.

How Can Your Business Avoid an OSHA Safety Citation?

In a perfect world, OSHA wouldn’t exist.

By that, we mean that there would be no need for an agency to govern the day-to-day working conditions of businesses and their employees.

But we don’t live in a perfect world, and because of that OSHA has been monitoring the safety conditions of workplaces since the passing of the OSHA act in 1971. Safety, not retribution, is what they’re after. By keeping that in mind you can easily create an environment for your employees that will pass any machine safety inspection with flying colors.

OSHA is no stranger to the idea that machine safety compliance can be overlooked. In fact, OSHA found that many workers are seriously injured every year due to faulty equipment or equipment that hasn’t been properly guarded against injury risks.

OSHA Machine Safety Meeting

OSHA Machine Safety Training – Image by pgcuellar from Pixabay

Machinery and heavy industry often pose a great risk of injury or death if proper precautions aren’t taken. These risks range from small handheld tools, like table saws and drills, to massive automated machines. OSHA standards outline strict guidelines for machine safety in the workplace, and even slight violations of these standards can result in OSHA citations or fines.

The good news is that these fines can be avoided by taking simple proactive measures to meet OSHA standards before the inspection takes place. These can include things like completing training for all employees on required PPE; making sure employees are familiar with emergency procedures; implementing lockout/tag-out procedures where hazardous equipment could cause injury if it needs to be serviced; ensuring all hand tools comply with ANSI standards, and guaranteeing that all machines are properly guarded.

Employers should also bring up any concerns about workplace hazards regarding specific job tasks or conditions, no matter how minor they may seem. OSHA inspectors are trained to recognize violations that could cause serious injury or death, which can include seemingly small, often overlooked, issues surrounding proper machine safety.

Be Proactive About Machine Safety

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The same can be said for machine safety.

The simplest way to avoid citations before OSHA starts its next round of inspections is to perform regular workplace safety audits and to maintain a constant awareness of potential machine safety infractions in your workplace. Need help outfitting your workplace with the right equipment to keep your employees safe? Check out our range of machine safety solutions, or reach out to us for your business’s unique needs!