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September-October-2019

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18 PalletCentral • September-October 2019 palletcentral.com Keeping your Employees Safe SAFETY n recent years, employers have experienced workplace violence at record rates. Workplaces, whether it be Walmart, a restaurant or bar, a school, or a place of worship, are making the headlines. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2017, 458 U.S. workers were workplace homicide victims and 15% were perpetrated by co-workers or other work associates. It is consistently in the top 4 causes of workplace deaths overall, and workplace violence is the number one cause of occupational death for women. About half (48%) of HR professionals responding to an SHRM survey said their organization had at some point experienced workplace violence. That survey included incidences of harassment and intimidation, which can be precursor events, as well as physical assaults and homicides. A University of Chicago survey found that only 45% of employers had a program to prevent workplace violence, half said they did not train workers on how to respond to an act of workplace violence, and nearly one-third of workers said they didn't know what to do if they witnessed or were involved in workplace violence. Consequently, this is an area of emphasis now for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), which has a role in investigating the employer's actions in protecting its workers from such threats or actual incidents, and can issue citations of up to $132,598 per affected worker in situations involving willful failure to act. OSHA defines workplace violence as "any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite." In OSHA's view, this encompasses threats and verbal abuse as well as physical assaults and homicide, and OSHA notes that it can cause psychological harm as well. If a workplace violence incident results in a worker being on medical leave due to PTSD, this must be reported to OSHA (if hospitalized) or included on the employer's OSHA 300/301 logs (subject to privacy requirements). There are four basic types of workplace violence threats that employers must consider when creating a program, although there is no true "one size fits all" approach as each location may have unique security considerations. All four types should be part of the employer's risk assessment: • TYPE1: Violence committed during a crime – e.g., worker is assaulted during a robbery of the business (stranger-to-stranger) • TYPE 2: Violence committed by customers/visitors to the worksite (customers/vendors/contractors could fall in this category) • TYPE 3: Violence committed by a co-worker against another co- worker (employee-to-employee, including temporary workers) • TYPE 4: Violence committed by persons with whom employees have relationships outside of the workplace – domestic violence spillover (may involve violation of protective order or restraining order) About one-quarter of workplace violence situations relate to personal relationships (individual gains access to work to target an employee or customer who is a current or former intimate partner), and one study revealed that 44% of employed adults personally experienced domestic violence's effect in their workplaces, and 21% identified themselves as victims of intimate partner violence. Some states have now enacted laws barring employers from discriminating in employment by firing or refusing to hire a person because they have obtained a protective or restraining order against another, where the scope of the order includes the protected employee's workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that more than 70% of workplaces do not have a formal program addressing workplace violence. While there are no specific federal OSHA standards on workplace violence, under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are By Adele L. Abrams, Esq. CMSP and Sarah Korwan, Esq. WORKPLACE VIOLENCE I

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