Blog Post

How to Use Better Data to Avoid OSHA Violations

Posted by Elaine Christie

Article Overview

  • Mobile forms software to promote efficiency

  • OSHA reporting rules

  • Top-10 violations (fall protection remains at the top of the list for the 11th year in a row!)

  • The $$$ penalties for not following safety standards

No one wants an accident. But workplace accidents do happen. It’s important to capture better data so you can avoid those accidents, stay on top of regulations — and avoid fines!

Good safety reporting and inspection reports? Thorough training documentation? And tracking near misses? Yes, all are steps to proactively approach safety.

Mobile Forms + Safety: How Tech Helps  

Below we’ll look at OSHA regulations and some recent real-world examples of hefty fines (including one company fined $1.2 million for allegedly failing to conduct training or inspections). 

First, let’s quickly review how tech helps with worksite safety. 

Let’s say you’re looking for a way for your team to create custom incident reports that can be completed from anywhere, even offline or out in the field. Giving the team easy-to-use mobile forms means everyone can gather the necessary details. Filling out pre-populated forms right on their mobile devices means they capture data accurately and without delays. You’re not left with piles of paper or chasing down anyone to gather more information. Technology gives you the data you need for better workplace safety and overall compliance. 

For example, what would happen if your company were to experience an unfortunate accident? Not only would you have to deal with a potentially catastrophic event, you also have to report it ASAP. Remember, every minute counts! OSHA has incredibly strict deadlines about when to report (i.e., within 8 hours). A better data collection tool can automate and streamline the record-keeping. 

OSHA Reporting Rules 

Now we know that time is of the essence when it comes to reporting. But who needs to report an accident, anyway? It’s important to know some key details about what you need to report, regardless of your company’s size. If your company has 10 or fewer employees, you generally don’t need to keep OSHA injury and illness records. However, ALL employers – regardless of size – must report a fatality or severe work-related injury. And it needs to happen quickly.

Here are a few more specific details about OSHA’s reporting rules:

  • All employers are required to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye.
  • A fatality must be reported within 8 hours.
  • An in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or eye loss must be reported within 24 hours.

OSHA’s Top Workplace Safety Citations

Here are the top-10 most frequently cited workplace safety standards for FY 2021:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 5,295 violations
  2. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 2,527
  3. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,026
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451): 1,948
  5. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 1,947
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 1,698
  7. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,666
  8. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,452
  9. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 1,420
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,113

Avoid Making That List Next Year 

You definitely don’t want to be on the top-10 list next year, right?

In an interview with Safety+Health magazine, an OSHA executive shared some worthwhile advice. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, said this:

“Employers should review their work processes and determine the hazards in their workplace by completing job hazard analyses, encourage employees to report workplace hazards and unsafe conditions, train employees to recognize hazards related to the Top 10 list, and expand training to other workplace hazards. Employers should also review their injury and illness logs and implement measures to eliminate identified hazards.”

OSHA Penalties, By the Numbers 

According to Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator, “When you fail to train your employees properly, you deny them the most valuable tool they can have: knowledge to do their work correctly and safely, knowledge to understand the hazards that accompany their job, and knowledge of how to identify and eliminate those hazards before they injure, sicken, or kill workers.” 

Access to streamlined and more efficient tools can get everyone on the same page about workplace training and safety. Here are several “real world” examples that show what happens when companies DON’T make safety a priority. 


👉🏽 One of the biggest fines was back in February 2021 – a whopping $1.3 million –  when a utility provider in Massachusetts “neglected to provide training to avoid work-related hazards while failing to conduct worksite inspections related to hazard recognition,” according to the safety and health citations. The company was cited for 12 serious violations, seven willful violations, and one repeat violation after the death of two workers. 


👉🏽 In January 2022, federal inspectors hit a Connecticut manufacturing company with 48 safety and health violations. The company is facing $236,201 in fines after an employee was electrocuted while repairing a portable water heater. Among the many violations, OSHA alleges that the company failed to develop procedures to lock out the water heater’s power source during maintenance, failed to provide lockout training to the deceased employee, and failed to periodically evaluate performance.  (Here’s the entire 90-page citation.)


👉🏽 In October 2021, federal inspectors fined an Illinois contractor $229,792 for ignoring federal requirements to ensure the use of fall protection. OSHA cited the company for one willful, five repeat, and two serious safety violations. This is on top of $172,521 in unpaid penalties at the company’s related work sites (OSHA identified similar hazards and issued citations in February 2021, May 2020, February 2018, December 2017 and October 2017). In addition to the fall protection violation, OSHA inspectors also noted the company failed to train employees on fall hazards and in the safe use of powered industrial vehicles.

Jail time

👉🏽 In July 2021, a Colorado state court sentenced the owner of a construction company to jail. Along with jail time and mandated training, the judge ordered him to pay the family of the 50-year-old worker who suffered fatal injuries in a preventable trench collapse at a work site in June 2018. In its complaint, OSHA investigators claimed the company “willfully failed to use a trench protective system as required and the company also failed to conduct regular site inspections to correct potentially hazardous conditions.”


👉🏽 In May 2021, OSHA fined three California contractors $64,169 over the fatal accident of a construction worker. OSHA noted that the project’s contractors “failed to conduct inspections to discover hazards, instruct employees on how to recognize workplace dangers, and install caution signs to warn workers about potential hazards.” 

Final Thoughts 

This article has shown that unfortunately, accidents do happen. How long do you think it would take your team to get critical information back to your home office? 

Device Magic can help you complete site inspections, audits, and compliance reports faster with mobile forms. Learn more about how you can automate paperwork, update safety audit checklists, and make things more efficient with technology (no programming or software needed). 

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