When you go to work, you likely assume that your employer will provide a safe place for you to do your job. But this does not always happen, and you could find yourself at risk for serious workplace injuries.
To protect workers, OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a work environment free from hazards that could result in injury or death. For your employer to receive a citation for disregarding the General Duty Clause, certain conditions must exist.
Recognition of hazards
Many employees get injured because of recognized workplace hazards every year and in 2021, the National Safety Council reports that 4.26 million work-related injuries received medical attention.
The first element of the General Duty Clause involves recognizing hazards. Your employer must become aware of any potential risks or dangers present in the workplace. These hazards can range from physical dangers, like machinery without proper safeguards, to chemical or biological hazards, and even ergonomic risks.
Feasibility of hazard abatement
Once a hazard receives recognition, the second element comes into play – the feasibility of hazard abatement. Feasibility takes into account various factors, including the cost of implementing safety measures, the availability of technology to mitigate the hazard and the industry’s standards. Your employer must take reasonable action to eliminate or reduce recognized hazards.
The third element pertains to employee exposure. To trigger the General Duty Clause, you must have gotten exposed to the hazard. If there is no exposure, there is no violation of the clause. This element ensures that the clause is only invoked when there is a genuine risk to your safety.
If you sustained an injury at work because your employer did not abide by the General Duty Clause, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Take steps following the accident to protect your interests and right to these benefits.