On September 8, 2011, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a directive on Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Incidents of Workplace Violence. The directive establishes uniform procedures for OSHA field staff for responding to incidents and complaints of workplace violence and conducting inspections in industries considered vulnerable to workplace violence, such as healthcare and social service settings.
Workplace violence is a serious recognized occupational hazard. Currently OSHA has issued non-mandatory guidelines. However, the aforementioned directive does provide OSHA field staff to evaluate your organization to determine if you have outlined potential workplace hazards, implemented reasonable safety mechanisms, trained your staff and developed record keeping practices in the event of a violent occurrence or complaint.
OSHA’s directive focuses on two primary questions to determine whether or not an investigation or citation (fines) is appropriate. (1) Did the employer recognize potential hazards in the workplace? And (2) Are there feasible means of preventing or minimizing such hazards?
Certain states require violence prevention programs (not federally mandated) such as California, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia for all or certain kinds of employers. Please reference your states’ rules to meet their guidelines.
This guide may be used to assist employers that have programs in the community, Social Service Workers and/or resident programs. A critical starting point is to establish a process that includes the stakeholders in your organization, reviewing requirements in the law and draft regulations, evaluating existing agency programs, and then working to address gaps identified in the review. This guide may be adapted to fit the needs of your organization and by type of employee. The goal of this tool is to assist employers with building a program that complies with the law and beyond that, reduce injuries, costs and associated negative impacts on your organization that are caused by workplace violence.
The guide is a tool to help in tailoring programs to the actual needs and conditions of your organization. Different interventions should be developed based on the type of work that is being performed and the type of exposures that are experienced. Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment, with input from those at risk, is critical to developing an effective Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP).
This guide was developed based on information provided by OSHA along with the many people that contributed to these guidelines. They include health care, social service and employee assistance experts, researches; educators and other stakeholders; OSHA professionals; and the National Institute for Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH).