General Duty Clause Law and Legal Definition

A general duty clause is a requirement that employers comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administraton (OSHA) standards and provide a hazard-free environment even if there are no standards governing the work area or industry. It states that the workplace must be free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.

An employer can be found to be in violation of the general duty clause if it can be shown that:

  • A hazard existed.
  • The hazard was likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
  • The employer had knowledge of the hazard or should have had knowledge because the hazard had been recognized by the employer, the employer's industry, or common sense.
  • The hazard was foreseeable.
  • Workers were exposed to the hazard.