The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has promulgated numerous standards and regulations that cover a variety of safety issues in the workplace. Arguably, the most powerful and useful standard OSHA has issued is 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1, or the “general duty clause.”
The “general duty clause” fundamentally addresses all workplace hazards not explicitly referred to in the published standards and regulations. If you suffered an injury at work due to a known hazard, your employer likely violated the “general duty clause.” Contact our Pennsylvania attorney for injuries caused by an OSHA 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1 violation to discuss your rights and remedies. Call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for a free and confidential consultation today.
The “General Duty Clause” as Applied to Pennsylvania Businesses and Employers
Employers are required to adhere to the regulatory safety standards issued by OSHA, while employees rely on these standards to ensure they are working in a safe environment. However, every potential hazard or danger is not specifically addressed by an OSHA rule. The “general duty clause” places an overall obligation on a Pennsylvania employer to protect their employees from any recognized and serious workplace hazard. More precisely, the clause states, “[e]ach employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Violations of 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1 Violation in Pennsylvania Workplaces
The “general duty clause” requires an employer to take any feasible action to mitigate or abate a recognized or known hazard in the workplace, even if OSHA did not address the hazard.
For example, OSHA has failed to publish any specific ergonomic standards to protect employees’ physical well-being. Injuries could occur if an employee’s duties comprise dangerous lifting, awkward postures, or repetitive activities and tasks. Serious injuries have resulted from the following common OSHA 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1 violations that occur throughout Pennsylvania.
- Jobs requiring regular and repeated lifting
- Failing to provide access to medical aid
- Unsafe exposure to certain chemicals
- Defective hoists, or hoists without load specifications
- Machinery without automatic shut-off mechanisms
- Improperly operated forklifts
- Conveyor belts without emergency stopping systems
- Standing or sitting for extended periods without proper support
- Hydraulic lifts that lack proper locking mechanisms
- A risk of violence in the workplace
Requirements for a Violation of the “General Duty Clause” by Pennsylvania Employers
Our experienced Pennsylvania attorney will be required to demonstrate four conditions to show that an employee’s injury was the result of a violation of OSHA 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1.
A Hazard Must Exist
The employee must have been exposed to an actual dangerous situation or set of circumstances. For a violation to have occurred, we must demonstrate that there was a hazard. For example, an employee’s injury on a factory floor was severely compounded by the lack of proper first aid stations or access to immediate medical attention. The inadequate safety precautions could constitute a hazard.
The Hazard Must be Recognized
For a violation to have occurred, the employee must have known, or should have known, about the hazard. Knowledge could arise from experience or be commonly acknowledged throughout the specific industry. Our law firm will need to show that your employer was aware of the hazardous condition.
In the example above, there are several possible ways to establish that an employer knew the lack of first aid stations or access to immediate medical attention presented a dangerous situation.
- A record of past injuries that did not receive proper medical treatment
- Internal protocols that required first aid stations that were ignored
- Any previous grievances made by the employees regarding the lack of medical aid
- Common industry practices regarding the placement and frequency of first aid stations
The Hazard is Likely to Cause Death or Physical Harm to the Employees
The hazard must present a significant possibility of causing serious injuries or death. Generally, this condition is applied liberally but is still dependent upon the facts of the particular situation. If injuries are likely to occur in a factory because of the inherent risks involved in the work, then failing to provide access to immediate medical attention could constitute a serious hazard that could result in additional adverse medical consequences or death. Our Pennsylvania OSHA 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1 violation lawyer will thoroughly review the facts and history surrounding the cause of your injury.
The Employer has the Ability to Mitigate the Hazard
The last condition necessary to demonstrate a violation of the “general duty clause” is showing that it was feasible to mitigate or remove the hazard. Many jobs are dangerous, and the hazards they present are part and parcel of the employment. Determining whether or not a hazard is correctable depends on the exact situation and facts presented. However, in the example above, providing medical first aid stations and implementing a company procedure for addressing serious injuries should be possible without any great difficulty.
Call Our Pennsylvania Attorney for Injuries Caused by an OSHA 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1 Violation for a Free Consultation
Injuries occur on the job for a variety of reasons. They are often not preventable and merely the result of an accident. However, when an employer knowingly endangers their employees, they could be violating the OSHA “general duty clause.” You are entitled to a safe work environment and OSHA has published many enforceable standards to ensure your health and well-being. If you suffered an injury because your employer purposefully violated those standards, you have the right to seek legal redress and compensation. Call our experienced Pennsylvania attorney for injuries caused by an OSHA 29 U.S.C. Section 654, 5(a)1 violation to discuss the details of your case and your legal rights. Contact the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for a free and confidential consultation today.