Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Workplace Violence Gains Formal OSHA Investigation Procedures

On September 8, OSHA issued Directive CPL 02-01-052, which for the first time establishes procedures for investigating workplace violence complaints.

Two industry groups get singled out for particular focus:
Healthcare and Social Service Settings
This category covers a broad spectrum of workers who provide healthcare and social services in psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency departments, community mental health clinics, drug abuse treatment clinics, pharmacies, community-care facilities, residential facilities and long-term care facilities. Workers in these fields include physicians, registered nurses, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, nurses’ aides, therapists, technicians, public health nurses,  healthcare workers, social and welfare workers, security personnel, maintenance personnel and emergency medical care personnel.
Late-Night Retail Settings
This includes entities such as convenience stores, liquor stores and gas stations. Factors that put late-night retail employees at risk include the exchange of money, twenty-four hour operation, solo work, isolated worksites, the sale of alcohol and poorly-lit stores and parking areas.
In determining whether to conduct an investigation, OSHA personnel are to take into consideration known risk factors as identified by NIOSH; whether it is in one of the high risk industries identified by OSHA (see above) and whether feasible abatement methods exist to address the hazard(s).

There is no specific violence in the workplace standard, but there is the general duty clause, and the Directive mentions some other standards that might come into play:
  • 29 CFR 1904 Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
  • 29 CFR 1910.151 Medical Services and First Aid.
  • 29 CFR 1926.23 First Aid and Medical Attention
  • 29 CFR 1926.35 Employee Emergency Action Plans
This Directive is a must reading for these two industries and for all those who are on your crises management team . (You do have a crises managment plan and team, don't you?)

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