The OSHA General Duty Clause

04/11/2023 Written by: Tara Crisp

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with ensuring that employers provide a safe working environment for their employees. OSHA has established a set of safety standards that employers must comply with, including the General Duty Clause. This clause requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause serious injury or death. Following are the four OSHA requirements that employers must meet to be cited under the General Duty Clause.

  1. Hazard Recognition

Hazard recognition is the first requirement for being cited under the General Duty Clause. Employers must be aware of all potential hazards in their workplace and take appropriate steps to address them. This includes conducting regular safety inspections and identifying potential hazards before they become a problem. If an employer claims they were unaware of the hazard as their defense, OSHA will most likely reference industry standards (such as ANSI or API) and prior citations as proof the employer should have been aware of the hazard.

  1. Feasible and Useful Methods Available to Correct Hazards

The second requirement for being cited under the General Duty Clause is that feasible abatement methods must be available to address the hazard. Feasible abatement methods are those that can reduce or eliminate the hazard without causing undue hardship to the employer. For example, if there is an electrical shock hazard, feasible abatement methods may include training employees on electrical safety or installing safety equipment.

  1. Hazard Causes or Likely to Cause Death or Serious Physical Harm

The third requirement for being cited under the General Duty Clause is that the hazard must be recognized as being serious enough to cause death or serious physical harm. This means the hazard must have the potential to cause significant injury or death, rather than just minor injuries or discomfort.

  1. Failure to Keep Workplace Free of Hazard

The fourth requirement for being cited under the General Duty Clause is that the employer must have failed to implement or maintain feasible means of abatement. This means that if the employer was aware of a hazard and feasible abatement methods existed, but the employer did not take action to address the hazard, they may be cited under the General Duty Clause.

The General Duty Clause is an essential part of OSHA's safety standards, requiring employers to provide a safe working environment free from recognized hazards. To be cited under the General Duty Clause, employers must meet the four requirements outlined above. By following these requirements, employers can ensure that they are providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees and can successfully defend a General Duty Clause citation.

For more information on this and other complex OSHA issues, contact the AssuredPartners Energy team.

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