Duty of Care—What Is It and Why Does It Matter?


What It Is

Duty of Care. It’s a phrase you may be familiar with, but not have a full understanding of. Fulfilling this obligation is critical for any organization. In this blog post we’ll discuss what duty of care is, why it matters, and how emergency notification can play a role in fulfilling that duty.

Let’s start with the basics. According to OSHA:

“…employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is ‘free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious harm.’ The courts have interpreted OSHA's general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard.

An employer that has experienced acts of workplace violence, or becomes aware of threats, intimidation, or other indicators showing that the potential for violence in the workplace exists, would be on notice of the risk of workplace violence and should implement a workplace violence prevention program combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training.”

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So let’s boil that down. Basically, in a place of business, employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment for their employees, and need to take the proper steps to make sure that their workplace meets this expectation.

Why Does It Matter?

You may think that having locks on the doors of your buildings or putting security cameras in place may be enough to fulfill the Duty of Care, and in some cases, it may be. But we live in increasingly uncertain times. Any kind of building can be susceptible to an outside threat, whether that be a disgruntled employee, severe weather, chemical spill or something more sinister like a terrorist attack. That means measures need to be in place that go beyond locks and monitoring tools.

Duty of Care means being proactive in how your organization keeps people out of harm’s way. It’s important to assess what measures you currently have in place and what gaps you need to fill, because without the proper preparations, organizations are putting themselves and their people at risk. This can result in injuries, loss of life and potential lawsuits. Implementing new procedures and running drills for how people are alerted of a potential incident and how they should respond can go a long way toward fulfilling the Duty of Care.

Communicate Clearly During an Emergency

How Can Emergency Notification Help?

In an upcoming blog post we’ll go in-depth into the different ways emergency notification can assist with fulfilling the Duty of Care. For now, know that organizations should be looking at tools that improve the speed and reach of their communications. When an incident occurs, the number one priority should be spreading the word to your people, and your organization needs tools in place to make that happen. Look for systems that offer multiple ways to reach people to increase the likelihood everyone receives the message and can stay safe.

Learn what to look for in an emergency notification system




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