Standard Considerations –Voluntary/Compliant
In 2011, the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) issued guidelines on workplace violence prevention and intervention in the form of a joint American National Standard (available through the ASIS website). This Standard recommends creating policies, procedures and a prevention program that include management commitment, employee involvement, training, threat assessment, incident management and resolution. Following the release of the American National Standard, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its first compliance directive (available on their website) on investigation and inspection of workplace violence incidents.
OSHA General Duty Clause
The OSHA General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all workers covered by this Administration. This would include reducing the risk of workplace violence by ensuring appropriate measures have been implemented to provide physical security of the facility itself. Additionally, there would be an expectation that threats of harm and/or physical assaults would be immediately addressed and stopped. Employers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate a recognized violence hazard in the workplace can be cited.
Mitigating Workplace Violence
An employer could be liable under OSHA if a victim or victim’s family can prove that the employer knew, or should have known, that violence could occur. Under OSHA, an employer may also be penalized if the U.S. Secretary of Labor establishes that the employer violated the General Duty Clause. In order to establish a violation, the Department of Labor must prove a hazard existed, the employer knew it existed, the hazard was likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, and a feasible abatement method existed. In recent years, OSHA has applied the General Duty Clause in numerous workplace injury cases where no specific standard was in effect.
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