Posted by Melissa Hall in #YHSafetyTips, Jun 26, 2019
Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers either inside or outside the workplace. Incidents can occur in the form of threats, verbal abuse, physical assaults, or homicide.
Approximately 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year. It can strike anywhere, but some workers are at increased risk including: workers who exchange money with the public; workers that deliver passengers, goods, or services; those that work alone during light night or early morning hours in high crime areas; or those that work in community settings or homes where they have contact with the public.
Acts of violence and other injuries is currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16,890 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2016. These incidents required days away from work.
Of those victims who experienced trauma from workplace violence:
Of the 5,147 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2017, 458 were cases of intentional injury by another person.
A zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence against of by employees should be implemented by employers to protect workers. The information should be included in the employee handbook and all employees should be aware of the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and handled appropriately.
Employees can protect themselves by:
A lot can happen in the chaotic minutes before police arrive; DHS advises staying calm and exercising one of three options: Run, hide or fight.
Some people commit violence because of revenge, robbery or ideology – with or without a component of mental illness. While there is no way to predict an attack, you can be aware of behaviors in coworkers that might signal future violence:
There are currently no specific OSHA standards for workplace violence.
However, under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm." The courts have interpreted OSHA's general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard.
An employee that has experienced acts of workplace violence, or becomes aware of threats, intimidation, or other indicators showing that the potential for violence in the workplace exists, would be on notice of the risk of workplace violence and should implement a workplace violence prevention program combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training.
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