Tech Talk Blog

Using the OSHA General Duty Clause to Create a Culture of Safety

We routinely field questions from clients asking what is required to comply with OSHA fall protection regulations.  Focus on OSHA compliance is certainly a starting point, but is this the best way to think about safety and fall protection?  Is a compliant approach focusing on minimum standards enough?

Answers to these philosophical questions lie in OSHA’s General Duty Clause which requires employers to provide a workplace that is free of known hazards that may cause serious harm or death.  If you are thinking this language sounds vague, you aren’t alone.  It is—but this cryptic language has a purpose.  The General Duty Clause (or GDC) is used to issue citations for hazardous conditions not covered by specific OSHA regulations.  Some folks view the GDC as OSHA’s license to issue nitpicky citations.  To this way of thinking, the GDC is the “gotcha clause” wielded by inspectors looking to issue a citation and send a message to the employer.

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Did You Know?

In general Industry, any leading edge that is four feet or higher than the surface below must be protected from fall hazards?