Workplace violence can happen to anyone, anytime and anyplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that over 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year, undergoing verbal abuse, physical abuse, and homicide, a leading cause of worker fatalities.
Instances of violence are raising alarms for workers and employers nationwide. According to data from the 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 753 workers were killed as a result of violence and other injuries by persons or animals, including 397 homicides and 270 suicides.
Who is at risk?
Workers with increased exposure to workplace violence are those who exchange money with the public, transport passengers, provide goods or services, and those who work unaccompanied or in small groups. Employees whose jobs are related to the service of alcohol, work late at night, or work in areas with high crime rates are also at risk. Additionally, healthcare professionals, law enforcement personnel, and workers in public service are at risk.
To prevent workplace violence, here are some reminders for employers and employees from OSHA:
- Have a plan to address workplace violence and practice emergency response drills.
- Assess work sites and educate employees on not going to places where they feel unsafe.
- Have a zero-tolerance policy for workplace related violence against, and by, employees.
- Supply drop safes to limit cash on hand.
- Create a workplace violence prevention program and set engineering and administrative controls.
- Train employees with safety education classes so that workers can recognize what to do in violent situations.
- Prepare field staff with hand-held alarms, code words, and cellular phones to be able to alert associates in case of danger.
- Provide a protected workplace with guards, surveillance cameras, etc.
- In community settings, carry only minimal money and required identification.
- Supervisors or managers must be alerted to any uneasiness about safety and security. All incidents must be reported and put in writing.
- Stay away from traveling alone to unknown locations or situations at any time.
- Be present at any safety training programs in order to gain knowledge of how to identify and avoid any potentially violent situation.
In the event of violence, companies must provide medical attention and report the incident to the local police department. Any violent incidents should be looked into and company policies should be changed as needed.
Every worker has the right to a safe workplace and employers who do not provide one will be cited as stated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause.
It is the right of every worker to have a safe workplace. Employers who do not provide one will be cited with violations as per the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s General Duty Clause. Learn more about workplace violence at OSHA’s Workplace Violence page here.