At the beginning of 2017 OSHA issued a directive to provide guidance to field inspectors when investigating workplace violence. The directive cancelled the previous instructions from 2011. The importance for employers is that it basically provides a road map to follow when instituting policies and preventative measures to address the threat of exposure to workplace violence. There are three general components that OSHA will be reviewing after an incident; administrative controls, environmental controls and employee training.
Under appendix A of the report there are a list of general recommendations for all industries and administrative workplaces. The list is quite simple to follow. The issue that most employers fail to meet concerns employee notification. At the top of the list is the importance of an alarm system with reliable response options. At SafeDefend we have been espousing this exact thing for the workplace. We have alarms for fire, weather and other hazards but don’t think to provide employees with notification in the event of a hostile intruder. Overlooking this security measures has cost businesses millions of dollars in lawsuits and settlements after an exposure to a workplace violence incident.
Administrative controls refers to the policies and tracking of employee behavior. It is imperative that early recognition, documentation and intervention be a part of the employer’s responsibilities. These programs have been shown to effectively reduce the incidents of workplace violence. Empowering employees to report inappropriate behavior is instrumental in diffusing hostility before it can escalate.
As a subset of administrative controls a training component for all employees is vital. SafeDefend has been working with schools, governments, and businesses across the country to prepare staff to respond in the event of a hostile event. Awareness of threats and an understanding of how to react can reduce casualties in a crisis.
The OSHA recommendations for workplace violence are universal to every workplace. The importance for employers is to recognize the need. While the chances of a hostile intruder in your workplace are small, the failure to prepare can have catastrophic consequences in the loss of life and be terminal for the company.