02 Jan Workplace Violence: What’s Your Responsibility?
The Occupations Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as “… any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors.”
OSHA further states “Each employer – shall furnish to each of his employee employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”.
OSHA requires that every employer (regardless of size) provide their employees with an Emergency Action Plan (EAP). If you have 9 or fewer employees it can be verbal but it is important that every one of those employees be aware of each aspect of the EAP. EAP’s need to include fire, severe weather, active shooter, bomb threat, and all other potential threats for your industry and geographic location. With all those procedures, it is a lot to ask your employees to recall. I suggest that my clients put it in writing regardless of the number of employees.
But wait, there’s more!
Simply putting words to paper will not be enough to protect you. If employees are unaware of the EAP; if it is not trained, drilled, audited, and updated on a regular basis, you could find it difficult to defend yourself in a court of law when something does happen. It is equally important to create training logs with employees’ signatures which documents all training.
Creating a Violence Prevention Program should be the ultimate goal. Note this is a PROGRAM, not a POLICY. The program encompasses everything from the evaluation of risk, EAP, and records of employee training, to the evaluation of the program itself.
As a consultant, creating these programs, customized to an employer’s culture and the industry is a big part of what I do. These programs help employers comply with OSHA regulations. They demonstrate a company’s commitment to its employees’ safety by gaining employee buy in to assure the program is successful, as well as sustainable.
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