Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Do You Have a Workplace Violence Policy?

Do you have a workplace violence policy? If not, you could be in violation of the law. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently updated its guidance on workplace violence policies, which you can access by clicking here.

OSHA enforces federal laws and implements regulations relating to workplace safety. Employers who have dangerous workplaces could be in violation of these laws, which could subject them to fines and penalties from OSHA. Dangerous workplaces are not just limited to dangers associated with the work performed. Workplaces which experience violent crime can also be considered dangerous and could violate various OSHA regulations.   

In recent years, OSHA has placed an increased emphasis on preventing workplace violence. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are between 15,000 and 25,000 incidents of workplace violence each year, although OSHA claims that many more incidents are likely unreported. 

OSHA’s guidance notes that workplace violence is not only limited to employees, but can also include customers, clients, and visitors. The guidance also explains that employers have  a duty to guard against known workplace hazards, including hazards that could leave an employee susceptible to violence. 

The guidance encourages employers to create a workplace violence policy. Such a policy should identify potential hazards that could increase workplace violence. It should also identify how each person in the workplace can reduce the potential for violence, and how incidents of workplace violence should be assessed and reviewed. 

The policy should explain when law enforcement should be contacted, and how interactions with law enforcement should proceed. A trained response team should be created to respond to emergencies, with a person on this team on duty at all times. The duties of enforcing and updating the workplace violence policy should be given to one person, and the policy should be discussed and updated at least once a year. Any injuries resulting from workplace violence should be documented. 

If you do not have a workplace violence policy, or would like help creating one, give me a call or send me an email.