This month, OSHA issued a new instruction for enforcement procedures for investigating or inspecting workplace violence incidents. It is effective in all Federal OSHA jurisdictions (State agencies are strongly encouraged to adopt this instruction), and tells field offices how to conduct inspections in response to workplace violence. While background studies for this enforcement have been ongoing since 1996, this is the first time that OSHA has issued an instruction that clarifies and explains the Agency’s policies and procedures around holding employers accountable for preventing workplace violence.
Here are the basics of what you need to know about the instruction:
- This directive does not require an OSHA response to every complaint or fatality of workplace violence or require that citations or notices be issued for every incident inspected or investigated, but any of these events initiate an inspection if workplace violence is suspected as a hazard.
- It provides general enforcement guidance to be applied in determining whether to make an initial response and/or
cite an employer.
- An instance of workplace violence is presumed to be work related if it results from an event occurring in the workplace.
- Employers may be found in violation of the general duty clause if they fail to reduce or eliminate serious recognized hazards.
- Classifies four types of workplace violence
- Identifies high-risk factors for workplaces, including contact with the general public, handling money and valuables, delivering passengers goods or services, or located in areas with high crime rates.
Changes in inspections
- Inspectors should gather evidence to demonstrate whether an employer recognized, either individually or through its industry, the existence of a potential workplace violence hazard affecting his or her employees.
- Investigations should focus on the availability to employers of feasible means of preventing or minimizing workplace violence hazards.
What it means for employers
- In workplaces where a potential for violence against employees has been identified, the employer should develop and implement a workplace violence prevention program.
- Keep documentation of “feasible means of abatement” on hand, including any precautions or protective measures taken by the employer to prevent or minimize workplace violence. Include a security plan, training plan, presence of a preventive plan, or other safety documents.
- Maintain five years of injury illness records on site, including workers’ compensation records, insurance records, police reports, security reports, first-aid logs, employee emergency action plans, OSHA 300 logs, union complaints (if applicable), past complaints or grievances noting a particular hazard, meeting minutes where workplace violence issues are discussed, and accident or near miss logs.
OSHA’s new Workplace Violence page