Have you ever wished that you could skip work because you were worried about what might happen that day? Maybe you were anxious about having to give an employee a poor performance review or worried about being laid off yourself. But have you ever been afraid of being killed or injured by someone you encounter at your workplace?

This is not just an issue for healthcare workers or teachers. Workplace violence has become a serious issue for all American employers. Consider, for instance, that the number of workplace homicides in the U.S. rose from 404 in 2013 to 500 in 2016 (the latest year for which figures are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). These trends demonstrate the need for employers to take steps to protect their employees’ safety.

Address the Issue of Workplace Violence in Employee Handbooks

One thing business owners should do is make sure that their workplace policies appropriately address violence. In 2006, less than 30 percent of employers had any formal policy on workplace violence. Today, the majority of employers have updated their policies to address multiple workplace violence issues, such as:

  • Expectations and penalties for employee behavior.
  • Guidelines for handling threats and acts of violence.
  • Policies to protect victims of domestic violence at work.

Comply with Federal and Local Safety Mandates

Employers must also make sure they remain in legal compliance with all safety regulations applicable to their industry, including both federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. While OSHA is best known for protecting workers from inanimate hazards such as toxins and dangerous machinery, OSHA has also taken up the issue of workplace violence.

California OSHA, for example, recently issued a new regulation (Title 8, Section 3342) aimed at protecting healthcare workers from workplace violence. The new regulation, which took full effect in April 2018, applies to all healthcare and senior-care facilities that admit patients for stays of 24 hours or longer.

Employers in all industries should take note of this new regulation, as Cal/OSHA is expected to issue similar regulations applicable to all industries in 2018, in advance of any action by federal agencies.

The Cal/OSHA regulation for healthcare requires employers to:

  • Develop a workplace violence prevention plan. This would include identifying and addressing safety hazards that could contribute to workplace violence, such as poor lighting, isolated work areas, and insufficient staffing levels.
  • Document procedures and conduct employee training on how to prevent and handle workplace violence. This would cover, for example, how to identify and report hazards, respond to threats and acts of violence, work with law enforcement, and use safe escape routes.
  • Develop processes to report and investigate both hazards and violent incidents.

Get Help From a Knowledgeable San Jose Employment Lawyer

As your business grows, employee-related risks can also grow. Our experienced Silicon Valley employment attorneys will provide sound legal counsel to help your company navigate the complexities of California employment and workplace safety laws. If you need help with issues such as workplace policies, legal compliance, or employee disputes, call SAC Attorneys LLP at 408-436-0789.