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October 18, 2011

OSHA Issues Directive on Workplace Violence

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a directive on enforcement procedures for investigating or inspecting incidents of workplace violence. Weapons Prohibited signThe directive establishes procedures for OSHA field staff responding to incidents and complaints of workplace violence and conducting inspections in industries considered vulnerable to workplace violence.


The directive outlines the types of businesses and the reasons why inspectors will review a company's workplace violence prevention efforts. Inspections will be conducted if:
  • Workplace violence results in a worker fatality or three or more hospitalizations
  • An employee files a workplace violence complaint, or
  • The company is in an industry with known risk factors for workplace violence
OSHA-identified high-risk industries are:
  • Healthcare and social service settings
  • Late-night retail settings
OSHA doesn't have a standard on workplace violence, but the agency says it will issue citations under the General Duty Clause. The agency has launched a new web page on Preventing Workplace Violence and published several workplace violence guidance documents including Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments and Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care and Social Service Workers.

Studies by NIOSH and other organizations show that employers who implement effective safety measures including employee training and conducting workplace analyses can reduce the incidence of workplace violence.

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