Is Workplace Violence a Form of Terrorism?
In this guest blog post, veteran security consultant Felix Nater discusses the harsh realities of workplace violence, including employee trauma, associated costs and how government regulations come into play.
Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Did you know that the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers who discover that an employee has threatened violence against managers, supervisors, or other employees may have to take certain preventive steps? OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires employers to provide employees with places of employment that are free of hazards that may cause or result in death or serious physical injury. Have you heard of a Worksite Assessment or Analysis for the determination of Risk Factors? If not, it might be time to learn more about this process. Failure to correct a hazard or to take corrective action in the face of an employee’s concern for their safety and security could result in a Negligence Civil Law Suit.
Report by the Department of Justice
The Department of Justice reports about a million reported incidents of workplace violence each year. What about the other incidents that go unreported or handled by you as business as usual? In case you did not know, workplace violence includes minor incidents which can escalate as well as serious acts of intimidation, threats of bodily harm and assaults by employees, coworkers, vendors, customers or contractors.
Why The Concern?
If you ask me, Workplace Violence during and in its aftermath is a form of terrorism at best. Victims are traumatized, employer’s businesses are threatened because performance suffers, production and efficiency drops, morale is decreased, there is an increase in days off and injury compensation claims, employees mysteriously request transfers and some even resign and employers can be sued for failing to provide for a safe workplace by the victims and witnesses who might be traumatized. Remember, while some might think the victim is making more out of the complaint, the courts do not think so when you do nothing to abate risk or reduce its impact.
The Court’s View
In case you might be interested, out of court awards to victims of workplace violence involving serious injury or death range around the $400,000 dollar mark. Jury awards can exceed several million dollars more. Where are you in the over all picture; proactive or reactive? Are you interested yet? The Bureau of Justice and Labor Statistics reported that an estimated 1.8 million workdays are lost by victims of violence each year.
Identifying Risk Factors
Your employees are at risk if they work exchanging money; work alone or in small groups at night or during early morning hours; guard or transport money or valuable property; perform public safety functions in communities; work with patients at hospitals, home-care; clients, passengers, customers or vendors; work in high crime neighborhoods and employee with a history of assaults, intimidation or threatening behavior. Designing workplace violence prevention awareness orientations or seminars will help minimize the threat. Integrating technology with risk factor mitigation strategy will identify you as a proactive player and not one waiting for the aftermath. A word of caution, in the aftermath, the costs will be greater, government imposed mandates could debilitate the business and civil litigation could tie you up in knots in the court system for years to come. Have a plan, train your employees and take corrective action!