How to Help Mitigate Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is more common than we may think. You might be surprised to learn that about 17% of all fatal work injuries last year were caused by violence, according to federal labor statistics. What’s more, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in an average year, nearly 2 million workers report being victims of workplace violence, with many cases going unreported.
In fact, OSHA is paying closer attention not only to violence between coworkers, but also violence directed at employees by customers, clients or other outsiders. OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassments, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”
Due to the increase in workplace violence incidents, many in the business community are calling for increased training among workers to be prepared for these types of incidents and how to help prevent them. According to Marvis Meyers, vice president of training, AAIM Employers Association, being unprepared for workplace violence can have “a very, very significant cost”. She cited a $20.5 million legal judgment against a Jack in the Box restaurant in September as an example. A man was permanently disabled in a fight in the restaurant’s parking lot. The lawsuit claimed the restaurant could have prevented the fight and did not adequately train its employees. Meyers noted that “violence is not necessarily just someone with a gun” and can include verbal altercations and harassment.
Follow OSHA Guidelines
Guidelines provided by OSHA to help prevent workplace violence are industry-specific, with additional methods issued to help protect employees in high-risk industries. The guidelines include: Violence Prevention Programs, Management Commitment and Employee Involvement, Worksite Analysis, Hazard Prevention and Control, Safety and Health Training, and Recordkeeping and Program Evaluation. According to OSHA, in most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions. This includes establishing a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. The employer’s policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.
Additionally, a well-written and implemented Workplace Violence Prevention Program can be incorporated into an injury and illness prevention program, employee handbook, or manual of standard operating procedures. It is critical to ensure that all workers know the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly.
Caitlin Morgan specializes in providing workers compensation solutions and can help you place coverage for your insureds in addition to implementing effective safety and risk management programs. Give us a call at: 877.226.1027.