How does OSHA’s General Duty Clause affect Connecticut employees?

Under OSHA’s General Duty Clause, employers are required to maintain a workplace environment that is free of serious hazards.

Many employees in Connecticut automatically assume that their place of employment will be safe and free of situations that could cause them harm. Even though this is not always the case, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's General Duty Clause exists to create safe work environments for all employees.

Understanding the clause

Under the General Duty Clause, OSHA states that employers must provide every one of their employees with a working environment that is free from hazards that could cause serious harm or death. In return, employees are required to follow any safety and health standards that are applicable to the duties of their job.

Examples of violations and types of hazards

There are many different ways OSHA's General Duty Clause can be violated. For example, employers may violate this clause when:

  • They require their employees to repeatedly lift boxes above their shoulders
  • There is a pipe threading machine in their workplace that does not have an automatic shutoff valve
  • No emergency stop devices exist on a conveyor system
  • Highly reactive chemicals are stored improperly
  • Employees are compelled to stand for extended periods of time without proper support
  • A forklift truck is used by employees that lacks adequate security and fall protection solutions

OSHA also classifies workplace risks into several different categories, which include safety, physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic and work organization hazards. While there are many type of workplace hazards, the most common one that exists in working environments today is safety hazards. These hazards are likely to cause injury, illness or death and include electrical hazards, tripping hazards and spills, unguarded machinery, working from heights and many others.

General Duty Clause citations

In order for an employer to be cited under the General Duty Clause, a number of conditions must be satisfied, states the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. For example, there must actually be a workplace hazard present, and this hazard must be recognizable. Additionally, the hazard must be likely to cause serious harm or death, and it must also be correctable by the employer through safety training, administrative controls or physical means.

Employees who work in an environment where there are significant hazards may experience serious injuries, as well as mental and emotional harm, when they are involved in a work-related accident. In situations like this, Connecticut workers may benefit from seeking the assistance of an attorney who can defend their right to fair and proper compensation.