The time has come to shift our thinking about how to prevent violent attacks in the workplace. Business as usual will not keep our workplaces safe from terrorist attacks.Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
The reality is that suicide rates in the U.S. have gone up considerably in recent years, claiming an average of 36,000 lives annually.1 While most suicides take place at, or near, a person’s home, suicide on the job is also increasing according to federal researchers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workplace suicides rose to 282 in 2013 reaching the highest level since the numbers have been reported by the occupational fatality census. In 2014, the suicide rate went down slightly to 271, which is the second highest level since the records have been kept. The annual average number of suicide deaths that occurred at work during the time period 2003 – 2014 is 237. Between 2003 and 2014 there were a total of 2,848 suicide deaths that occurred at work.2 The rise in suicide rates at work is even more significant when taken in the context that overall homicides in the workplace have been steadily decreasing since the mid-nineties.Read More
Employees in the health care and social service sectors suffer workplace violence at much higher rates than in most other sectors, largely because of the higher risk from their patients and clients. In response to these risks, worker protection agencies and professional organizations have developed guidelines for workplace violence prevention in these sectors. Increasingly, worker protection laws and regulations are being revised to require these activities. Most recently, in December 2015 California has proposed to expand state requirements for security plans to include explicit workplace violence prevention programs.
Existing Requirements For Security Plans
It’s exceedingly difficult to predict workplace violence, and there is no easy solution to stop it altogether, however, reference checking is a preventative step that employers can take to reduce the risk. I would add that, in my professional opinion, many workplace violence incidents could be prevented if employers took the necessary precautions before an incident actually unfolded.Read More
A manager reports to you that one of your workers, Joe, has admitted to a problem with alcohol. Or perhaps there’s an accident in the workplace and the ensuing investigation reveals that Jane is a regular drug user. Or John arrives at the office, once again unfit to do his job because he’s “under the influence.”Read More
Federal laws prohibit employers from basing employment decisions on a variety of factors, including “sex.” This term is not defined, leaving its interpretation to change and expand with social changes and court decisions. The central entity creating and applying these interpretations is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which administers and enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a variety of subsequent laws. On July 15, EEOC reaffirmed its present interpretation, in an enforcement decision in which the plaintiff claimed he was denied access to a promotion because he’s gay (Baldwin v. Foxx). The EEOC’s order includes a clear summary of the agency’s approach to sex discrimination cases:
When the majority of people hear the word “violence” they think of physical assault. Of course we know that acts of violence go beyond the physical to include any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated, or assaulted. Every year almost two million U.S. workers report having been victimized by acts of workplace violence, yet many cases still go unreported. Workplace violence is a much bigger problem than many people realize, and it can happen anywhere at any time, and everyone is at risk.
In 2007, Congress added a provision to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget, directing DHS to create a program to identify chemicals that might be tempting targets for terrorists, and to require facility that handle sufficiently large quantities of these chemicals of interest to establish security programs subject to DHS oversight (“Section 550”). DHS responded to Section 550 by issuing Chemical Facility Anti-terrorism Standards (CFATS) rules, requiring compliance to begin in 2008.
Although most “workplace violence” incidents are low-level psychological or physical altercations between co-workers, Canadians have just been tragically reminded of the dangers of murders by interlopers. Government buildings are the likeliest targets for terrorism, and financial and retail buildings the likeliest targets for non-political criminals, but all workplaces face at least some of these most severe risks. There’s no way to eliminate these risks, but commonsense workplace security measures can reduce them. This note discusses approaches to evaluating and reinforcing security against external threats – which are important subsets of broader workplace violence prevention efforts.
The best strategies for workplace violence prevention involve updated and enforced company policies; an awareness that real perpetrators don’t necessarily make direct threats to their targets; and the creation of Threat Assessment Teams to manage situations successfully. These four management interventions can help those efforts as well.