Top 10 OSHA Violations of 2020

Be in the know

Year after year, forklift-related violations show up in OSHA’s Top 10 most common citations. Skipping
daily inspections and failing to provide refresher training are just a few of the infractions that come with
a $9,600+ fine.


Below are OSHA’s top 10 most-cited violations from 2020. Please note, OSHA classifies forklifts as “powered industrial trucks.”

– Fall Protection – General Requirements (§1926.501): 5,424 violations
– Hazard Communication (§1910.1200): 3,199 violations
– Respiratory Protection (§1910.1200): 2,649 violations
– Scaffolding (§1926.451): 2,538 violations
– Ladders (§1926.1053): 2,129 violations
– Lockout/Tagout (§1926.1053): 2,065 violations
– Powered Industrial Trucks (§1910.178): 1,932 violations
– Fall Protection – Training Requirements (§1926.503): 1,621 violations
– Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (§1926.102): 1,369
– Machine Guarding (§1910.212): 1,313 violations.

Forklift/powered industrial truck citations remained at #7, the same ranking as 2017 and 2018; however,
the total number of citations dropped slightly. In 2019, there were 2347 citations, down from 2281 the
year before. That’s good news, but we’d all like to see forklift violations drop out of OSHA’s top 10. As
the statistics below illustrate, forklift operator refresher training is an important first step.

The Top 5 Forklift-Related OSHA Violations

Unsafe operation

Driving with an elevated load, driving too fast, driving too close to platform edges and not following
loading dock safety procedures are some of the most common reasons for a citation.

Missing/inadequate operator certification

All forklift operators must have an OSHA-approved forklift certification for the class of forklift they

Failure to remove unsafe trucks from service

Whenever a forklift is found to be defective, in need of repair, or in any way unsafe, the truck must be
taken out of service until it is restored to a safe operating condition.

Failure to provide refresher training

Every forklift operator must receive refresher training every three years – sooner if they are involved in
an accident, near-miss, or when reported for reckless behavior. Forklift operators may also require
additional training when they are asked to operate a different class of forklift, or if a change in the
workplace has created a new hazard.

No pre-operation inspection

Use these forklift daily inspection checklists to ensure the safety of your operators and detect minor
issues before they become expensive repairs.

OSHA Fines for 2021

For 2021, OSHA’s minimum fine remained at $9,639 and the maximum penalty also held steady at $13,494. Failure to Abate fines are $13,494 per day, and for repeated violations, the penalty ceiling is now $13,937.

EHS Today notes, “In a few years, the maximum penalty amount for a single ‘willful’ or ‘repeat’ violation may be close to $150,000, depending on the rate of inflation over time.”

Safety Is No Accident

No business wants to become a negative statistic. We can help you maintain your commitment to safety (and avoid expensive fines).  Need to schedule forklift operator refresher training? Let us know what time works best for you and your team. We can conduct training at your location using your equipment, whenever it’s convenient for you.

Call Thompson & Johnson today to speak to an equipment specialist or fill out a Customer Request Email Form above! 

Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.