OSHA instructs field officers on when, how to conduct workplace violence inspections
Posted January 23, 2017
OSHA published policy guidance and procedures to be followed when conducting workplace inspections and issuing citations related to occupational exposure to workplace violence. The new compliance directive (CPL 02-01-058), Enforcement Procedures and Scheduling for Occupational Exposure to Workplace Violence, applies OSHA-wide. While the new CPL is intended for use by OSHA compliance officers, it also provides employers with information on what OSHA will be enforcing.
OSHA believes that workplace violence is an occupational hazard in some industries and environments that, like other safety issues, can be avoided or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions.
The instruction replaces CPL 02-01-052, Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents.
The new CPL clarifies the different types of healthcare settings where workplace violence incidents are reasonably foreseeable and expands the OSHA recognized high-risk industries to include corrections and taxi driving.
Other key instructions
The CPL provides explanations and instructions to OSHA officers on the following key areas:
- Steps that should be taken in reviewing incidents of workplace violence when considering whether to initiate an inspection.
- The requirements to support the elements of a citation under the General Duty Clause, recognizing that different settings pose distinct hazards which have varying abatement solutions.
- Resources available to OSHA staff conducing inspections and developing citations.
- How OSHA Area Offices should assist employers in addressing the issue of workplace violence.
High-risk industries identified by OSHA
The CPL identifies several industries at high risk for workplace violence. These include:
- Correctional facilities — prisons, detention centers, and jails where OSHA has coverage under the OSH Act.
- Healthcare and social services settings — hospitals, residential treatment (e.g. nursing homes), nonresidential treatment services (e.g., mental health centers), community care (e.g., group homes), and field work (e.g., home healthcare workers).
- Late-night retail — convenience stores, liquor stores, and gas stations.
- Taxi driving — taxi and livery drivers.
Types of violence
The directive tells OSHA officers to conduct inspections for the following types of violence:
Type 1 — Criminal intent. This type of violence is committed by people who enter a workplace with the intent to commit a robbery or other crime. OSHA says it may initiate inspections at late-night retail facilities that include this type of violence.
Type 2 — Customer/Client/Patients. This type of violence is directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or others to whom the employer provides a service. OSHA says it may initiate an inspection in response to these types of incidents, especially when they occur at healthcare, social service, and prison and detention facility settings, and during taxi transport.
Type 3 — Co-worker. This type of violence is targeted toward co-workers, supervisors, or managers by current or former employees, supervisors, and managers.
Type 4 — Personal. This type of violence is committed by someone who is not an employee, but who knows or has a personal relationship with an employee at a workplace.
OSHA says is will generally not initiate an inspection in cases of co-worker or personal threats of violence. In these cases, the Area Office will evaluate whether an inspection is appropriate on a case-by-case basis. Factors OSHA will consider include:
- Whether the incident was foreseeable (whether the incidents of co-worker violence are ongoing and/or escalating and whether the employer has taken steps to abate the hazard).
- If the incident was foreseeable, the severity of the incident(s).
In cases of intimidation or bullying, OSHA directs the Area Office to refer the case to the local police department or other appropriate government entity.
OSHA urges State-Plan States to adopt the instruction for use with their general duty clause, state-specific workplace violence standard, or other applicable authority under state law. Within 60 days, State-Plan States must submit a notice of intent indicating if it has, or will, adopt enforcement policies addressing workplace violence hazards and if so, whether the state’s policies and procedures are or will be identical to, or different from, the federal OSHA policies and procedures.
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