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Workplace Violence Prevention – Increased Funding for Intervention Research, Training, and Establishment of an Enforceable OSHA Standard

  • Date: Nov 09 2004
  • Policy Number: 20043

Key Words: Civil Rights, Congress, Employment, Occupational Health And Safety

Whereas death and injury from workplace violence is a significant occupational hazard and public health dilemma:

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 609 of 5,534 fatal occupational injuries in 2002 resulted from homicide. This constituted 11 percent of all occupational fatalities, and was the second leading cause of workplace death for males and the leading cause for female workers.1

For the ten year period 1992-2001, 8,706 workers were victims of workplace homicide, constituting 14.1 percent of the 61,839 workers who were killed on the job during that period.2

The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) estimated that an average of 1.7 million non-fatal workplace assaults occurred annually during 1993-1999.3

The highest rates of victimization are among law enforcement workers, mental health workers, transportation workers, healthcare workers, teachers, and retail workers. 3

Only 46.3 percent of workplace rapes, sexual assaults, robberies, and simple and aggravated assaults were reported to the police. 3

Worker-on-worker violence constitutes only about 5-7 percent of workplace homicides, but gains a disproportionate amount of attention, masking the overall extent and seriousness of the problem.

Workplace violence leads to increased medical and stress-related disability claims, lower productivity, higher turnover and a hostile working environment.4

The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has developed violence prevention guidelines for Late Night Retail, Healthcare and Social Services, and Taxicab Drivers, three sectors at highest risk for fatal or non-fatal assaults, demonstrating the feasibility of a public health approach to preventing workplace violence.5-7

Whereas, the American Public Health Association has a history of supporting measures to improve workplace health and safety;

Whereas, workplace violence is exacting a devastating toll on public health, especially in the health care, social services, criminal justice, transportation, and retail sectors;

Whereas, violence in the workplace not only puts employees at risk of injury, but also patients, customers and clients of services, i.e. the public;

Whereas, there is no federal occupational safety and health standard on workplace violence prevention;

Whereas, there is a growing body of research literature documenting workplace violence risk factors and effective interventions that organizations can take to reduce the risk of workplace violence;

Whereas, unions, employers, and public health advocates have successfully implemented a variety of programs to reduce workplace violence.

Therefore, be it resolved:

  1. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration should promulgate an enforceable standard on occupational violence prevention.
  2. Organizations should develop violence prevention programs specific to the risk factors and characteristics of their individual workplace. These programs should be based on sound public health practice that includes:
  3. Management commitment and worker involvement.
  4. Worksite analysis to identify existing hazards and conditions, including the tracking of violent incidents, injury/illness.
  5. Hazard prevention and control: the identification and implementation of engineering, administrative and work practice controls to prevent occupational injuries.
  6. Record keeping, including methods to ensure that violent incidents are reported without fear of reprisal or discrimination.
  7. Training of front-line workers and management in the prevention of workplace violence.
  8. Evaluation of efforts to prevent workplace violence incidents.
  9. Federal health and safety agencies should increase funding for occupational violence prevention research, especially intervention research, evaluating the impact of violence prevention strategies.
  10. State health and safety agencies should also develop workplace violence prevention programs, including regulations and outreach to at-risk industries and occupations.

Implementation suggestions:

  1. APHA leadership will write letters to federal agencies and Congress in support of funding for workplace violence prevention research and the promulgation of a federal OSHA standard on workplace violence prevention. 
  2. APHA staff will support the membership in preparing testimony before Congress, state legislative bodies, and/or OSHA in support of this resolution.

References

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2003). National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2002, Table A-2. Available at www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2003). National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries 1992-2001. Available at www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm.
  3. Duhart, D. (2001). Violence in the Workplace 1993-1999. Report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey (NCJ Publication 190076), Available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/vw99.pdf.
  4. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (2002). Violence: Occupational Hazards in Hospitals (DHHS Publication No. 2002-101). Available at www.cdc.gov/niosh.
  5. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2003). Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers. (DOL Publication 3148).
  6. Available at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3148.pdf. 
  7. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (1998). Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments. (DOL Publication 3153). Available at http://www.osha-slc.gov/Publications/osha3153.pdf.
  8. US Department of Labor, OSHA (2000). Risk Factors and Protective Measures for Taxi and Livery Drivers. Available at http://www.osha-slc.gov/OSHAFacts/taxi-livery-drivers.pdf. 

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