How Does OSHA’s General Duty Clause Apply To Active Shooter Attacks?

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.

The threat of an active shooter or other workplace violence could align with this interpretation, given certain criteria are met. Therefore, it is important for you to understand what you can do to prevent or mitigate an attack. It is also important for you to understand what steps you can take to avoid violating the General Duty Clause, should an attack occur.

Legal Liability – Active Litigation

Litigation is ongoing in the Las Vegas shooting. Now known as 1 October in Las Vegas, this mass shooting was committed in 2017 by a lone gunman holed up in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, a property owned by MGM Resorts. The Route 91 festival, promoted by Live Nation, and attended by roughly 22,000 people, was held at a lot also owned by MGM, across Las Vegas Boulevard from the Mandalay. The shooter, who committed suicide, fired hundreds of rounds from his room at concertgoers 450 meters away, killing 58 people and injuring over 850.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed seeking to hold MGM Resorts legally liable and financially responsible. MGM recently announced it is in meetings with opposing counsel to take the steps towards a settlement process. Litigation will be stayed while the parties enter mediation.

Cost To Businesses

In addition to the legal liability faced by businesses following active shooter incidents, the business costs can be astronomical.

  • Virginia Tech reportedly incurred over $48 million in litigation and recovery costs.
  • Over $50 million was spent rebuilding the Sandy Hook elementary school.
  • Following a lone-wolf shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in 2017, Broward County is said to have incurred roughly $1.2 million in costs
    • $562,000 was for reuniting travelers with their luggage
    • $270,000 was for carpet and tile replacement
    • $314,000 was for crisis management and response

The costs to businesses in dealing with the aftermath of shootings can be staggering.

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Dirigo Safety is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or consultation on private individual cases.