Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New OSHA Workplace Violence Investigation and Enforcement Guidance

Yes, this is what we talk about, and the way we talk about it, at work...

On a quick first pass CPL 02-01-052 "Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents" confirms that it constitutes what OSHA regards as a "significant change," "the first instruction on the enforcement procedures for investigations and inspections that occur as a result of workplace violence incident(s)." It can be a useful document to those building or maintaining WPV prevention and response programs as one can reverse engineer OSHA instructions to refine the structure of the recordkeeping elements of a program. This directive specifically and correctly focuses on late night retail and healthcare & social service settings.

The document outlines OSHA's "criteria for initiating inspections."

a. Known risk factors to consider, listed by NIOSH in its report NIOSH Current Intelligence Bulletin #57: Violence in the Workplace: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies (1996).

b. Evidence of employer and/or industry recognition of the potential for workplace violence in OSHA-identified high risk industries, such as healthcare and social service settings and late night retail (See Section X, C, 1 and 2.).

c. Feasible abatement methods exist to address the hazard(s). [Appendix B]

"Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents” offers several scenarios where investigation and enforcement are appropriate, notably in healthcare and late night retail settings. Strikingly, it describes a case of acquaintance on employee violence (Type IV) as not meeting any of the three criteria for enforcement. It also describes a shooting of employees at a financial services company as meeting some but not necessarily all of the enforcement criteria.

I think security practitioners need to be conversant with CPL 02-01-052 because it is the guidance OSHA inspectors will use to determine whether a company that experiences workplace violence injury or death should be subject to enforcement action. It provides some very interesting clarifications under which OSHA investigators might invoke the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1). It describes a specific obligation for employers in late night retail and healthcare & social service settings. It does not seem to create specific obligations for other industries, but it is an interesting change of which all security professionals should be aware.