Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued no standard on workplace violence, it has cited certain companies for failure to prevent violence under section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, generally known as the general duty clause.

Stepping into the breach to prevent future incidents of violence, especially homicide, OSHA has instructed its inspectors on when it is proper to conduct a workplace violence inspection.

According to the new OSHA instruction document "Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents," inspections should be carried out when a complaint is received or when an incident has been reported or found out. Inspections are also recommended when they are part of a program to target high-violence industries, such as late-night retail, health care and social services.

Citations are permitted when it is found that the institution or business in question could or should have foreseen the potential for violence and failed to take steps to prevent it. Specifically, in assessing culpability of the party in charge where violence has occurred, the instructions direct inspectors to look for four proactive steps that should've been undertaken:

  • Whether security personnel have been employed
  • Whether a current and updated workplace violence prevention program is in place
  • Whether a hazard assessment has been taken
  • Whether training has been given to staff and personnel to help prevent violence.

Clearly, you don't want your business to fall subject to either violence or an OSHA inspection for violence. A good way to keep your workplace safeguarded is to get a copy of Personnel Concepts' Workplace Violence Prevention Program and apply its principles today.