OSHA To Fight Against Violence in the Workplace August 5, 2017
At a recent national safety conference, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) expressed its goal to fight against workplace violence and its associated risks of serious injuries and death.
According to OSHA, violence in the workplace constitutes any threat or act of physical violence, intimidation, harassment and other forms of disruptive, threatening behaviors that can occur in the workplace. It includes verbal abuse; it is not limited to physical assault. Violence in the workplace can affect workers, clients, and visitors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) counted that out of a total 4,679 fatal injuries that occurred in 2014, a total of 403 were a result of violent workplace homicides. OSHA’s data shows that 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence every year, although underreporting is an issue, so the number is likely higher. In fact, violence ranks as the fourth-leading cause of all fatal workplace injuries each year.
Certain factors that can contribute to workplace violence have been identified, including exchanging money with members of the public, working in isolated areas or alone, with alcohol, late at night and with volatile coworkers. OSHA also found that law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, customer service agents, delivery drivers and public service workers were at particularly high risk for workplace violence.
OSHA also found that although workplace violence affects more men than women, a disproportionately high amount of women are victims. Data from recent years shows that workplace violence sometimes counts for as much as 21% of all female work fatalities. Researchers have also found that pay cuts, using part-time employees, unsatisfactory (very hot or cold, poor lighting) work conditions and computer monitoring of employee performance can all contribute to an increase in rates of workplace violence.
Although hundreds of workplace homicides occur annually and thousands of aggravated and simple assaults, robberies, sexual assaults and rapes, OSHA does not yet have any federal regulations in place to police the violence. That said, OSHA does require that employers protect their employees against recognizable hazards that can cause death or serious harm, and according to OSHA, violence is a part of that clause.
Because workplace violence is unpredictable and happens quickly, OSHA has violence prevention tips for employers to help keep their employees safe. We have compiled some of these tips below:
- Provide protective barriers such as bullet-resistant shields or enclosures, deep service counters and pass-through windows;
- Install panic buttons, alarm systems and radios;
- Establish a plan for emergencies, such as a robbery;
- Install video surveillance equipment;
- Train employees on the appropriate response to emergency situations;
- Hire enough staff members to avoid solitary work, if possible, and:
- Use drop safes and other cash-handling controls.
OSHA has committed itself to urging employers to put anti-violence programs into place. The administration knows that it is important to fight against workplace violence through policy change, training and updating safety procedures. Because underreporting is commonly a problem, employers should also strive to create atmospheres where employees know that any issue of workplace violence will be addressed and remedied quickly and in an efficient manner.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Helping Injured Workers
If you or a loved one has been injured or has suffered at work because of workplace violence or harassment, please call Philadelphia work injury lawyers at Galfand Berger at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. We have been helping injured victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey since 1947.