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Are You Prepared to Respond to Workplace Violence?

Are You Prepared to Respond to Workplace Violence?
Are You Prepared to Respond to Workplace Violence?

by Wayne Maxey, CPP

On September 8, 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a directive providing guidance and procedures for their field offices to utilize when responding to workplace violence (WPV) incidents. It is noteworthy that this is the first time OSHA has provided clear instruction on inspections and enforcement actions in a situation where workplace violence has occurred or where they may conduct inspections at worksites, especially those industries OSHA recognizes that are at risk for high incidences of workplace violence.

OSHA recognizes that workplace violence is an occupational hazard, and by taking appropriate precautions, can be avoided or minimized.

So, what are the industries considered to have high incidences of workplace violence?

  • Healthcare and Social Service Settings
  • Late-Night Retail Settings

Research has identified other factors that may increase the risk of workplace violence:

  • Working with the public or volatile, unstable people
  • Working alone or in isolated areas
  • Handling money and valuables, providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served.
  • Working late at night or in areas of high crime rates

It is important to recognize that even if your organization is not in one of the high risk industries, or exposed to the above risk factors, the OSHA directive will still apply if you experience a workplace violence incident. Preparation is key in the prevention of workplace violence.

What steps can your organization take to prevent or minimize the risk for workplace violence?

  • Establish a well written and implemented Workplace Violence Prevention Program, including a policy that states the organization will strive for a zero tolerance response to violence, threats of violence, or other behaviors that cause others to fear for their safety. The policy and subsequent training programs should include, but not be limited to, identifying definitions of workplace violence, types of workplace violence perpetrators, potential warning signs (or “Red Flags”), reporting procedures and investigation and intervention responses.
  • Utilize a team approach to address potential WPV conditions or incidents. The multi-disciplinary team (commonly called the Threat Management Team) has proven to be the industry standard approach to these issues.

The directive is well-written and not too laden with “government-speak” and includes information on the agency’s outreach program to assist organizations in this particular area of concern. Additionally, it includes an appendix containing additional resources, studies, potential abatement procedures, and a sample inspection report.

Are you prepared to respond to workplace violence? OSHA thinks you should be.

If you need assistance, call on BCI to be your “trusted partner” in dealing with problematic behaviors in the workplace. Our expert staff can guide you in developing and implementing an effective workplace violence prevention and intervention program. In addition to the directive reviewed in this article, we utilize other resources and methods to ensure your organization has access to the “best practices” and experienced practitioners in the field of workplace violence prevention, intervention and management.

Source: OSHA Instruction, Directive Number CPL 02-01-052 (2011).

January 18, 2014

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