What is the General Duty Clause?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

When it comes to ensuring workplace safety, there is an important aspect that both employers and employees need to be aware of: the General Duty Clause. This clause plays a role in maintaining a safe and healthy work environment for everyone involved.

The General Duty Clause is a provision outlined in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Its purpose is to require employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

Responsibilities of employers

Under the General Duty Clause, employers are responsible for several actions:

  • Identifying hazards: Employers need to actively look for any possible dangers that might harm their workers’ safety and health. This means they have to regularly check the workplace and procedures to see if there are any areas of concern.
  • Addressing hazards: Employers must take appropriate measures to address identified hazards. This might involve implementing safety protocols, providing necessary training or modifying equipment to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries.
  • Providing training: Employers must ensure that their workers get enough training to understand and steer clear of dangers at work. This means teaching them proper safety steps, how to handle dangerous materials and how to use safety gear.
  • Maintaining a safe environment: Employers are responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment on an ongoing basis. This includes regular maintenance of equipment, proper ventilation and adherence to safety standards and regulations.

Employers who receive a citation under the General Duty Clause could face citations and fines from OSHA.

Employee rights and responsibilities

Employers are mainly responsible for keeping workplaces safe, but employees also help by following safety rules. Workers can get training on dangers at work and how to stay safe. If they see something unsafe, they should tell their boss. They can also say no to work they think is too risky.

Employees injured at work because their employer failed to maintain a safe workplace environment may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In this situation, employees should take steps to ensure they receive these benefits while protecting their best interests.

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