A Publication of WTVP

A combination of administrative controls and precautionary measures can greatly reduce the chance of violence at work.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is recognized as an occupational hazard in some industries. It may surprise some employers to learn that workplace violence has been among the top four causes of death at work for more than 15 years.

There are several factors that may increase the risk of violence at worksites, including working with the public or volatile, unstable people; working alone or in isolated areas; handling money and valuables; providing services and care; working where alcohol is served; and time of day and location of work, i.e. working late at night or in areas with high crime rates.

According to OSHA, four classifications describe the relationship between the perpetrator and the target of workplace violence.

  1. Criminal. Violent acts by people who enter the workplace to commit a robbery or other crime, or current or former employees who enter the workplace with the intent to commit a crime.
  2. Customer/Client/Patient. Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates or any others to whom the employer provides a service.
  3. Co-worker. Violence against co-workers, supervisors or managers by a current or former employee, supervisor or manager.
  4. Personal. Violence in the workplace by someone who does not work there, but who is known to or has a personal relationship with an employee.

Be Aware of Your Risk
OSHA has identified industries at particularly high risk of workplace violence, which include healthcare and social service settings (psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency departments, mental health clinics, drug treatment clinics, residential and long-term care facilities, etc.) and late-night retail settings (convenience stores, liquor stores, gas stations, etc.). It offers these general safety recommendations for all workplaces:

Employee assistance programs, human resource professionals and local mental health and emergency service personnel should be contacted for input in developing these strategies.

Reducing Risk in Retail
Additional recommendations for the retail industry include:

Minimize risk through administrative and work practice controls, such as:

Reducing Risk in Healthcare and Social Services
Additional recommendations for healthcare and social services facilities include:

Minimize risk through administrative and work practice controls, such as:

OSHA may fine employers in violation of the so-called “general duty clause” if they fail to reduce or eliminate serious recognized hazards. OSHA inspectors will gather evidence to determine whether an employer recognized, either individually or through its industry, the existence of a potential workplace violence hazard affecting its employees. iBi

Michael R. Lied is an attorney with Howard & Howard PLLC, located at One Technology Plaza, Suite 600 in Peoria. He can be reached at (309) 672-1483 or [email protected].