Safety Standards in Manufacturing

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OSHA’s Top 10 Violations in 2023

In the past, many industries have violated the safety standards set by OSHA. However, the manufacturing safety industry has the top 10 OSHA violations for the whole year, out of any other industry. For instance, these violations included:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501) – 7,271
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) – 3,213
  3. Ladders (1926.1053) – 2,978
  4. Scaffolding (1926.451) – 2,859
  5. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) – 2,561
  6. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) – 2,554
  7. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) – 2,481
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) – 2,112
  9. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102) – 2,074
  10. Machine Guarding (1910.212) – 1,644

Machine Guarding

In 2018, there were 2,048 cases regarding machine guarding. Machine guarding prevents injuries and fatalities from moving parts of a machine. Standards vary by industry. But for manufacturing, employers must adhere to the standards set by OSHA. For example, the standards address how to use:

  • Hand tool (manual and powered).
  • Abrasive wheels and tools.
  • Woodworking tools.
  • Air receivers.
  • Jacks-lever, ratchet, hydraulic, and screw.
  • Machine power-transmission equipment.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO)

There were 1,356 cases that concerned LOTO in 2018. In general, workers in manufacturing work with dangerous equipment. So, a way to keep them safe is by using lockout/tagout. To clarify, LOTO is a way for employers to keep machines from running and causing injuries or deaths. In addition to LOTO, employers must choose an authorized person to perform repairs, assign locks and tags, control locks, and take off locks and tags on a machine.

Procedures of Lockout/Tagout


The chosen authorized person should:

  • Find all energy sources.
  • Tell all affected employees that they conducted lockout/tagout.
  • Instruct workers to leave the area.
  • Turn off equipment with regular procedures.
  • Keep energy sources away from everything else with proper devices.
  • Put locks and tags on the device or power switch if you can.
  • Ensure there is no more energy in the machine.
  • Prevent parts from moving when working.
  • Turn on the machine to make sure it has no more energy in it.
  • Let the machine run until any remaining energy is gone.

Finishing Lockout/Tagout

Do not allow affected employees to enter the area until the authorized person:

  • Removes tools, debris, or parts of the machine.
  • Reinstall all parts of the machine.
  • Put energy back into the machine.
  • Allow affected employees to re-enter the area.

Requirements for Locks and Tags

Locks keep equipment from running. And tags let affected employees know that the equipment is locked out. Locks and tags should always be used together and never removed by anyone other than the authorized person.

Hazard Communication

1,312 cases of hazard communication were reported in 2018. OSHA states that employers must come up with a hazard communication plan. Each plan must have the:
Hazard Communication

  • Identification of hazardous chemicals.
  • Proper labelling of hazardous chemicals.
  • Location of Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
  • Use of SDS.
  • Inform and train employees.
  • Assess and adjust the plan.

Ultimately, the employer is responsible for providing the correct information about the harmful chemicals that affected employees work with. Additionally, an SDS must be in a place that workers can easily find and use correctly. Finally, informing and training affected employees is the key to ensuring their safety. After the plan is put in place, employers must assess and adjust this plan as needed.

Respiratory Protection

2018 consisted of 1,246 cases of improper respiratory protection. Employers must look out for their workers’ physical safety. But they must consider their health when working on the site.

Respiratory-ProtectionGeneral Rules for Respiratory Protection Programs

OSHA clearly states the general requirements for an employer to implement proper respiratory protection. For instance, employers must:

  • Create and use a respiratory protection program.
  • Identify and assess breathing hazards within the work environment.
  • Choose and offer proper respirators to workers.
  • Give medical evaluations and fit respirators for workers.
  • Maintain, store, and clean respirators.
  • Train workers how to properly work around respiratory hazards and use respirators.
  • Assess and adjust the plan.
  • Give a written copy of your respiratory protection plan as well as certain records and documents to workers.

Respiratory Protection Programs in Manufacturing

The kind of work an employee does determines the type of respiratory protection they need. For instance, workers in the manufacturing industry need:

  • Work processes or techniques (sandblasting, etc.).
  • Building materials or chemicals.
  • Respiratory hazards.
  • Respirators.

Overall, the constant changes in work environments lead to specific respiratory protection needs in the manufacturing industry.


The number of electrical cases in 2018 reached about 1,048. Since electrical and energized equipment is key in the manufacturing industry, employers must adhere to the standards set by OSHA. A few tips for employers to achieve this are to:

  • Properly guard machines.
  • Follow LOTO rules.
  • Close doors on electrical panels.
  • Stand to the side when energizing equipment.
  • Keep work areas dry.
  • Wear proper PPE when working around energized or electrical equipment.
  • Keep work areas clean.
  • Train employees the right way.

Powered Industrial Trucks (PITs)

Powered industrial trucks (PITs) are mainly used to move objects. For example, forklifts are a type of PIT. PITs can be controlled by an operator or by a walking operator. Trucks that haul equipment on the road and earth-moving equipment are not power industrial trucks.


As power industrial trucks are quite dangerous to operate, there are a few hazards that both employers and workers should know. To specify:

  • Counterbalanced high-lift rider trucks that operators sit in are most likely to fall over.
  • The type and conditions of the environment can have certain hazards.
  • Workers can accidentally drive off loading docks.
  • Lifts can fall off or between work surfaces.
  • Workers can become trapped inside.


To ensure workers’ safety, employers must know the type of truck and worksite, train employers properly, and only allow competent workers to operate these trucks.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is vital for workers in manufacturing. OSHA has specific requirements that must be met to ensure the safety of employees. For one, employers must train workers annually, or as needed, before workers use eye and face protection. Training must include the:

  • Need for face and eye protection.
  • Harm of not using PPE the right way.
  • Right way to use PPE.
  • Limits of the PPE.
  • Proper way to maintain and store the PPE.
  • Medical signs that could lead to PPE not being effective.
  • Requirements for eye and the face protection standard set by OSHA.

In addition, the most common types of eye and face protection include:

  • Protective eyewear — full-coverage (brow, temple, and front) safety glasses and goggles, or a respirator (full-face).
  • Goggles – prevents chemicals from splashing into workers’ eyes.
  • Full-face respirator – must be tight-fitting.

Occupational Noise Exposure

There were 349 cases of noise exposure violations in 2018. About 22 million workers work in places that put them at risk for damage from noise. As a result, the U.S. paid about $1.5 million to remedy these cases. A few tips to prevent noise exposure damage are:

  • Engineering Controls – Use equipment that does not produce as much noise, maintain and lubricate machines, and use proper PPE (ear plugs, etc.)
  • Administrative Controls — Change the workplace or procedures (use louder equipment with less people around, limit exposure time to loud equipment, give workers a quiet area to recover, and keep loud equipment further away)

Walking or Working Surfaces

Walking and working surfaces account for 267 cases in 2018. Falls are particularly common within this industry. So, employers must follow the rules set by OSHA. To clarify, they include:

  • Keep the worksite clean.
  • Get rid of clutter on walking or working surfaces.
  • Have proper lighting.
  • Implement fall protection programs that meet OSHA’s standards.
  • Train and re-train employees.

Process Safety Management

265 cases in improper process safety management were reported in 2018. To combat this issue, employers must properly identify:

  • Hazardous chemicals.
  • Steps to take when there is an incident.

See OSHA’s list of highly hazardous chemicals here.

In short, workers in manufacturing are at risk of injuries and fatalities each time the step on the site. As a result, OSHA has put standards in place that require employers to keep them safe. Whether it is a machine guarding, training, or proper PPE use, employers must do everything they can to reduce the chances of workers hurting themselves on the job.

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