Two documents published in 2011 put new demands on businesses to implement effective safety measures to reduce the incidence of workplace violence.
In September, OSHA issued a compliance directive that establishes uniform procedures for its field staff when responding to incidents and complaints of workplace violence and conducting inspections in industries considered vulnerable to workplace violence.
ASIS International and the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) published the American National Standard for “Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention,” (WVPI) in October, “that provides an overview of policies, processes, and protocols that organizations can adopt to help identify and prevent threatening behavior and violence affecting the workplace, and to better address and resolve threats and violence that have actually occurred.”
The OSHA directive is primarily for use by OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) who will conduct inspections of at risk businesses or respond to an incident, and is useful as a map for employers to understand the scope of their responsibility to provide safe work and safe workplace under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA does not have a specific standard that addresses workplace violence and this is the first enforcement directive ever issued on the subject by the agency.
The ASIS-SHRM standard goes deep into recommendations for developing and implementing a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary WVPI program; a threat management protocol, and practices that can help in effectively managing post-incident issues.
It recommends that the multi-disciplinary group include top-management, legal, HR, security, safety and health, crisis management, risk management, unions, EAPs, PR, and even outside experts. It charts the specific contributions of each of these experts but does not suggest which one should take the lead in the initiative.
Together, these two documents are a good resource for establishing or improving a WVPI program to protect employees. They also signal that a formal and comprehensive WVPI is not something that can be ignored or that just a minimum effort will suffice, especially in terms of downstream liability in the aftermath of an incident.
The OSHA directive is available free from OSHA. You can download a free PDF of the OSHA directive from the PSC website: Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Incidents of Workplace Violence.
The ASIS-SHRM standard is free to download one time for ASIS members. Hard copies can be purchased by non-members for $117.00.
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