Five Things We Need to Know about OSHA’s General Duty Clause

If you are a construction industry professional, a manufacturer, or a facility service provider, you are aware of OSHA’s General Duty Clause regulations created in 1970. However, employers in scores of other industries, including restaurants, retail, private schools, even churches may know little about the General Duty Clause or what it entails.

So, for those folks, let’s look at this clause as well as its regulations:

  1. The OSHA General Duty Clause applies to every employer in the country, not just those at elevated risk for work-related injuries.
  2. The clause requires employers to provide a workplace free of “recognized hazards” that could result in death, illness, or serious physical harm to their staff.
  3. In many cases, these recognized hazards are easy to identify, for instance, a cord left over a walkway or not providing fire protection equipment in an office facility. In other situations, such as workplace violence, the hazards may be more challenging to realize.
  4. To be in violation of the General Duty Clause, OSHA looks to see if hazards could have been anticipated (italics added) and that feasible and practical steps could have been taken to address and eliminate the danger.
  5. Violations of the OSHA clause can result in minor to significant fines, legal liabilities, and long-term reputational damage.

But then the OSJA clause goes a step further. Not only can employers be cited if a hazard could have been anticipated, but they also can be cited if the employer should have anticipated a danger.

Many larger organizations address this by having an in-house security director and an entire security team to help identify recognized hazards, as discussed earlier, and hazards the organization should be aware of. However, this is often not the case for small to midsize organizations.

The reason for this is simple: hiring a security director and a security team can be very costly. However, the risks of not having one — or something comparable — can be even more costly. Having staff members injured, even killed, can throw an organization and its remaining staff into total disarray.

Enter SDaaS

However, these smaller organizations do have an option to turn to: SDaaS. This stands for Security Director as a Service. As with all “aaS” – business models, this is a subscription service designed to help an organization minimize — if not prevent — workplace hazards. As a subscription service, how long the SDaaS is engaged can be short-term, long-term, and increasingly today, permanent.

We add permanent because, in recent years, many employers have started temporarily using aaS only to later make it a permanent resource. They use uaaS organizationally to handle, for instance, payroll, accounting, or legal services. They have determined that using such services is cost-effective and scalable — the need for the service can be scaled up or down as needed — and used in multiple locations as required.

So, what does an SDaaS do?

In most cases, an SDaaS provides leadership and guidance and does everything an in-house security and safety director and their team would do. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:  

  • Determine if and where surveillance cameras should be installed inside and outside a facility.
  • Determine where alarm systems and sensors are needed, physical barriers should be placed, or security lighting be enhanced.
  • Help organizations develop ways to closely monitor and watch for internal theft, vandalism, and abnormal activity.
  • Evaluate the need for physical security and risk assessment audits to help reduce risks, including workplace violence.
  • Develop guidelines regarding how to mitigate a violent situation should it occur, helping to protect staffers and the facility.
  • Related to this, provide security training programs so members of the organization know what to look for and how to handle an incident or potential threat.

Today, all organizations, big or small, must be able to anticipate risks and dangers that can impact their people and facilities. Threats are becoming much more sophisticated and, all too often, much more severe. Security directors, whether in-house or using an SDaaS, are essential for an organization to meet OSHA’s General Duty Clause, but more than that, ensure their businesses remain operational.

We welcome your thoughts.  Please feel free to Talk to Us.  TAL Global is an elite security, consulting, and risk management firm that protects human and physical assets around the globe.

Stay safe,

Oscar Villanueva


TAL Global
O: 1-408-993-1300



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