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Violence in the Workplace: OSHA’s New Directive

Sad woman in cornerLacerations, bruises, fractures, illnesses, disabilities and disorders; these are all things you might expect to result from an injury in the workplace. Overseeing and managing the risks of each of these incidents can be daunting and difficult for a leadership team, and can have employers asking themselves, “How do I protect my workers from their environment?”

The answer to that question may be as simple as developing integrated safety initiatives, implementing employee maintenance programs, and/or exploring a safety incentives program. But how does an employer protect his employees from other employees?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released a new directive that highlights the criteria that they will use to determine whether or not an inspector should take a deeper look into employers’ plans to reduce the risk of violence in the workplace.

“Workplace violence is a serious recognized occupational hazard, ranking among the top four causes of death in workplaces during the past 15 years,” reads a recent OSHA press release. OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, David Michaels, added that “These incidents and others like them can be avoided or decreased if employers take appropriate precautions to protect their workers.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, homicide in the workplace was responsible for claiming more than 3,000 lives between 2006 and 2010. Just as with any other type of incident, some organizations and industries are at higher risk than others.

For example, OSHA recently inspected a psychiatric hospital in Bangor, Maine and found evidence of more than 90 scenarios from 2008 to 2010 that involved employees being assaulted on the job by patients.

“Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees,” the release reads. “OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.”

For employers, OSHA recommends taking a few precautionary measures that will pay off in the event of a violent situation in the workplace. These measures include door detectors or buzzer systems, alarms, safe rooms, and more.

OSHA has recently launched a webpage aimed to help educate people about workplace violence, as well as provide tips and resources for those who are interested. You can find all of this, and more, information by visiting OSHA’s website.

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One Comment

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