A new OSHA directive outlines the types of businesses and the reasons why inspectors will review a company’s workplace violence prevention efforts.
The directive spells out when OSHA inspectors should look into an employer’s plan to reduce the risk of workplace violence. But it also gives businesses a heads up on what the safety agency expects from them.
These inspections will be conducted if:
- workplace violence results in a worker fatality or three or more hospitalizations
- an employee files a workplace violence complaint, or
- the company is in an industry with known risk factors for workplace violence.
The OSHA-identified high-risk industries are:
- healthcare and social service settings (psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency rooms, community mental health clinics, drug abuse treatment clinics, pharmacies, community-care facilities, residential facilities and long-term care facilities), and
- late-night retail settings (convenience stores, liquor stores and gas stations).
The risk factors inspectors will consider are:
- working with unstable or volatile people in certain healthcare, social service or criminal justice settings
- working alone or in small numbers
- working late at night or during early morning hours
- working in high-crime areas
- guarding valuable property or possessions
- working in community-based settings, such as mental health clinics, drug abuse treatment clinics, pharmacies, community-care facilities and long-term care facilities
- exchanging money in certain financial institutions
- delivering passengers, goods or services, and
- having a mobile workplace such as a taxi.
OSHA doesn’t have a standard on workplace violence, but the agency says it will issue citations under the General Duty Clause.
A recent example: An OSHA inspection of a psychiatric hospital in Maine found more than 90 instances in which workers were assaulted on the job by patients from 2008 through 2010. The hospital was cited for not providing its workers with adequate safeguards against workplace violence and faces a fine of more than $6,000.