OSHA Investigation following Workplace Violence

by | Aug 16, 2022 | Personal Injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has completed its investigation following a workplace violence incident at a Baton Rouge, Louisiana car wash.  During the incident, an assistant manager at the B-Quik car wash on Greenwell Springs Road was stabbed.

The OSHA investigation found that the company failed to timely report the incident as required by federal law.  Following the investigation, OSHA issued a citation, for violations of:

  • OSH ACT of 1970 Section (5)(a)(I): The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed to the hazard of violence in the workplace.

OSHA also provided the company with recommendations regarding eliminating or reducing this hazard:

Among other methods, a feasible and acceptable method of abatement to eliminate or materially reduce this hazard includes, but is not limited to:

1. Develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program. Review and update existing polices, such as the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy, to ensure that the following elements are integrated:

a. Conducting a worksite analysis to identify environmental and operational risks for violence by analyzing and tracking records to identify incidents and trends to establish a baseline for measuring improvement, conducting screening surveys of workers to discover unreported incidents or threats, and analyzing workplace security to identify hazards, conditions, operations, and situations that could expose workers to violence.

b. Identifying and implementing measures to prevent or control hazards that include engineering, procedural, and/or administrative changes to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of violent incidents. Measures include: installing physical barriers such as ballistic enclosures and/or positively locking/securing doors in the deck area, designating a secured area to count money, controlling access to the store by limiting entrance/exit routes for customers and ensuring threats or hostile behavior by customers are reported to management.

c. Developing and implementing a training and education program to ensure all employees are aware of potential security hazards, know when and how to promptly report incidents, and know how to protect themselves and coworkers through established policies and procedures.

i. Ensure training is conducted for new employees and at least annually thereafter, drills are conducted, and that refresher training is conducted when necessary;

ii. Ensure that all staff are trained on emergency procedures for workers to use in case of a robbery or security breach, such as calling the police or triggering an alarm, how to recognize and defuse situations that start as verbal abuse and potentially escalate to physically combative behavior.

2. Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for maintaining security in the workplace, such as hiring security guards and/or establishing a liaison with law enforcement who can help identify ways to prevent and mitigate workplace violence.

It goes without saying that safe companies must have adequate safety policies and procedures to protect their workers.  Workplace violence is a known risk, which must be planned for.  OSHA has previously issued recommendations regarding how to reduce workplace violence:

How can workplace violence hazards be reduced?

In most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions. One of the best protections employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. This policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.

By assessing their worksites, employers can identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring. OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and federal workplaces.

This can be a separate workplace violence prevention program or can be incorporated into a safety and health program, employee handbook, or manual of standard operating procedures. It is critical to ensure that all workers know the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly. In addition, OSHA encourages employers to develop additional methods as necessary to protect employees in high risk industries.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured due to workplace violence.  The experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of workplace violence.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries while at work as a result of the negligence of another party.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.