What is the General Duty Clause?

Your employer has to provide a safe place for you to perform your job duties when you go to work. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, under the General Duty Clause, employers have to provide their employees with a workplace free from hazards that could cause serious harm or death. 

Even though your employer has to furnish you with a safe place to work, this does not always happen. If your employer fails to follow the General Duty Clause, OSHA can cite your employer for his or her inaction to correct hazards. 

Criteria for a citation

The workplace hazard must meet certain criteria for OSAH to issue a citation: 

  • The hazard must exist 
  • The hazard must be recognizable 
  • The hazard must be likely to cause serious injuries or death 

Your employer must also be able to correct the hazard. 

Examples of violations

There are many different types of General Duty Clause violations. For example, your employer is in violation of this law if he or she consistently acts you to lift items above shoulder height, does not provide a way for you to summon emergency medical assistance when you work alone or asks you to frequently twist your body while shifting a load. 

Your employer can also violate this rule when he or she has you use a pipe threading machine without an automatic shut-off button or a conveyor system without an emergency stop device. Additional violations to this rule include improper storage of chemicals that are highly reactive and asking you to stand for extended periods of time without providing proper support. 

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