When most people enter a workplace, there’s an assumption of safety. An assumption that they will walk out the door in the same physical and emotional condition that they entered. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 2 million people per year report being a victim of workplace violence. If you factor in people who don’t report incidents out of fear of retaliation, the number may be much higher.
While OSHA does not provide direct guidance in terms of workplace violence, they do provide the General Duty Clause, which requires employers to provide workers with a workplace “free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” It’s generally understood that this includes workplace violence. Employers who are aware of potential workplace violence hazards, but do not act on them, can be fined by OSHA and held liable. While an OSHA attorney can defend you in this matter, preventing a violent situation is highly advisable.
Our OSHA defense attorneys understand the importance of promoting a safe working environment, including in high stress professions like healthcare and law enforcement. That’s why we created this two-part series with tips for reducing workplace violence across all industries. For more information, visit part 2 of this series.
Assess Working Environment
Preventing workplace violence begins with understanding your environment and its inherent risks. The presence of risk factors such as stress, working with a mentally unstable population, the presence of alcohol, and area crime rates should all be assessed. Policies and procedures for each job should be assessed as well to determine risk.
Establish a Violence Prevention Program
The information that is provided in your assessment, along with best practices, should be used to establish a prevention program. The program should center on a zero tolerance policy for violence and include a list of physical and administrative measures aimed at prevention. It should also clearly state the consequences for violence and establish a response management team.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.