How to Avoid the CBS Evening News
The next question is what can employers do to protect their employees or to avoid being in the headlines for the CBS Evening News? Employees should have zero tolerance policy towards workplace violence against or by employees, whether the violence originates inside or outside the workplace. Employers should establish a workplace violence prevention program and incorporate that into an accident prevention program, employee handbook, and/or standard operating procedures.
An employer should consider establishing and implementing a written workplace violence prevention program that includes and/or provides for the following:
§ Workplace Violence Policy Statement (statement should include that there is zero tolerance for work place violence and encourage reporting without retaliation)
§ Management commitment and employee involvement (involvement by all and system of accountability)1
§ Worksite analysis (identify existing hazards)
§ Hazard prevention and control (practice controls and procedures in the event of a violent incident)
§ Training and education for supervisors and employers § Incident reporting, investigation, follow up § Recordkeeping evaluation program (OSHA 300 log and analyze impact)
Some examples of protections that can be provided by employers and included in a program are as follows:
§ Safety education for employees so they will know what conduct is not acceptable.
§ Appropriately secure the workplace – surveillance, alarm systems, ID badges, entry locks/guards, etc. (depending on the circumstances).
§ Provide drop safes to limit the amount of cash on hand (keep minimal cash available).
§ Equip field staff with cellular phones, alarms or noise devices and require them to keep contact with people at another location throughout the day.
§ Make sure employees are instructed not to go to a location where they feel unsafe and/or have another person with them or police assistance in potentially dangerous situations.
§ Develop policies and procedures to cover property visits.
(OSHA Fact Sheet.)
What can you advise your clients to do in order to prevent workplace violence beyond a program? The following are some suggestions:
§ Recommend they use effective personnel procedures (background checks, prior employer checks, reference checks, pre-employment interview and follow up).
§ Recommend they incorporate workplace conduct policies into employee orientation.
§ Recommend the use of effective supervisory training (pay attention to early warning signs of stress, education on stress management, effective communication, conflict resolution, team building, dealing with difficult people as lack of training in recognizing such behavior is a high risk factor).
§ Provide support services (help your clients draft policies and train management and employees).
§ Provide safety education from a legal perspective.
§ Review company policies and procedures annually that relate to employee safety and workplace violence.
A significant risk factor for workplace violence is the prevalence of handguns and other weapons. Certain states have recently enacted legislation prohibiting employers from having policies that restrict employees from having weapons and ammunition concealed in a vehicle or the workplace premises.
1Make sure consistent with National Labor Relations Act, 129 U.S.C. 158 (a)(2).
Jeremy L. Fetty is an associate at Parr Richey whose practice focuses on corporate law, utility law, municipal law, and labor and employment law. The statements contained herein are for information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice and should not be construed to form an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions regarding this article, please contact an attorney.