Workplace violence has been on the rise in recent years, presenting a serious risk of significant injury or even death. This not only endangers employees, but also exposes employers to potential OSHA citations, fines, and increased OSHA Incident Rates. Although there is currently no specific regulation addressing workplace violence, OSHA can still hold employers accountable under the General Duty Clause if they neglect to address physical abuse. According to this clause, employers are obligated to ensure a safe and hazard-free workplace for their employees.
Certain industries, such as healthcare, late-night retail, delivery services, taxi/ride share, and corrections, are particularly susceptible to incidents of violence due to the nature of their work. However, all employers, regardless of industry, should establish and enforce a Zero Tolerance Policy against violence. This policy should be accompanied by comprehensive training programs to help employees identify potential situations and behaviors that may lead to violence. Additionally, employees should be familiar with the procedures for reporting incidents and encouraged to report any instances of physical abuse or harassment. Once a report is made, it is crucial for management to promptly investigate and take appropriate action to address and resolve the situation.
When creating a policy to address workplace violence, it is important to consider various scenarios that may arise. These can range from instances of verbal harassment escalating to physical altercations between colleagues, or even the rare but serious situation of an active shooter. While having a written policy cannot guarantee complete prevention, it is crucial to address multiple potential situations. This may involve protocols such as notifying supervisors, contacting emergency services by dialing 911, or implementing workplace evacuation procedures. Employers must prioritize ensuring that employees are well-informed about the necessary actions to protect themselves in such circumstances.
Employers can minimize workplace violence by discussing policies, offering counseling support, and fostering an open environment for sharing experiences and strategies. By taking these measures, employers can create a safer and more secure workplace for everyone involved.
For more information, please contact a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor today.