There were a number of incidents of violence in the workplace in February 2008.These include a shooting at a Lane Bryant store near a mall in Tinley Park, Illinois, and the brutal slaying of a therapist in New York.
Despite such high-profile incidents, the U.S. government reports that workplace violence is decreasing. Still, every employer should have a plan in place to prevent workplace violence.
In 2006, there were 94 workplace murders in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That may be down from the rate of more than 200 annually during the early 1990s, but it is still a significant risk nationally and in Georgia. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that there are ways to deal with the danger.
The best protection, according to OSHA, is for employers to institute a zero-tolerance policy against violence by or against employees. A workplace violence prevention plan should be developed. It may be worked into the regular safety program. Employees should know and understand the policy on violence. Employee manuals and handbooks should have information about violence prevention and response.
Streaming videos and downloads about preventing workplace violence are available through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
OSHA has developed a series of suggested steps for preventing violence at work. Outside sales people and others who work out of the office should, for their own protection, file daily work plans and keep their employers up to date about their location. Escorts should be provided for employees who are uncomfortable about leaving the firm’s building at night.
It is also recommended that staff have cell phones and hand-held alarms. Electronic keys, guards, and I.D. badges all help restrict access. Alarm systems, video surveillance cameras, and additional lighting are useful. So is a drop safe to cut back on the amount of money on hand.
More than 2 million people annually suffer workplace violence in the U.S. Professionals and blue-collar workers alike are in danger.
Healthcare workers, social services employees, nurses, psychiatric evaluators, and probation officers face risks. So do Taxi drivers, gas and water utility workers, retail workers, mail carriers, and phone and cable TV installers. Nurses face on-the-job assaults as frequently as police officers. People generally at risk are employees working in high crime areas, those who work alone in small groups on late night or early morning shifts, workers who exchange money with the public and those who deliver passengers, goods, and services.
OSHA Georgia Worker Safety
No employer can guarantee the safety of every employee on the job. When it comes to workplace violence, however, there are steps that can be taken that will reduce the danger to workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed steps that can protect employees from violence in the workplace. OSHA’s General Duty Clause says employers must insure a healthful and safe workplace, and that includes moves to prevent, reduce, or limit the effects of violence. Penalties can result from failure to take preventive steps.
Workplace violence response and prevention procedures should be practiced the way fire drills are practiced. Employees should report violence threats, even seemingly non-serious ones, quickly. Every violent incident should be investigated, regardless of how small it may appear to be. The worker who punches a coworker in the arm one day could be the person who brings a gun to work the next. Employers should keep detailed and accurate records of incidents and threats and take corrective measures.
OSHA has developed a number of guidelines, behaviors that employees can develop that will protect themselves from workplace violence.
Workers should attend safety-training programs to learn how to spot, avoid, or defuse possibly violent situations. They should tell their supervisors or managers about any safety and security concerns they may have.
Employees should report all incidents in writing. Warning signs are rage, threats, minor assaults, verbal abuse, and even destroying property.
Employers should warn workers against traveling by themselves into unfamiliar sites and situations. Employees should not be scheduled to come into a strange city at 2 a.m., for example. Workers whose jobs take them into the community should avoid flashing jewelry or showing off expensive merchandise.
If violent incidents occur, employers should offer counseling or stress debriefing to all workers. They should provide first aid and other medical attention immediately. The incident should be reported to the police without delay. All victims should be told of their right to take legal action against the perpetrators of the violence. Finally, staff should be encouraged to develop and share ideas about prevention.
Some employers may have questions about a recent Georgia Worker Safety alert issued to warn employers of an unexpected danger.
What was the alert about?
To warn employers about the hazards All-Terrain Vehicles can pose in the workplace, Georgia OSHA issued an alert recently. The focus of this bulletin was to remind employers of the guidelines they should follow for correct All-Terrain Vehicle operation. In addition, the bulletin explained the importance of training employees who will operate the vehicles.
Are All-Terrain Vehicles used often in the workplace?
All-Terrain Vehicles, also known as ATVs, are being used more frequently in the workplace all the time. Industries such as law enforcement, agriculture, construction, and facilities management like to use these vehicles.
Are All-Terrain Vehicles dangerous?
Because ATVs are often used recreationally, and even driven by children, people may not realize the dangers they pose. ATVs can roll-over, causing the driver to suffer injuries or perhaps even die. In the last 10 years, 800,000 injuries were reported during recreational use. In 1982, a total of 29 people died in ATV-related accidents. In 2004, a total of 470 people died in ATV-related accidents.
Have employees been injured using ATVs at work?
Yes. During the last ten years, 100 employees lost their lives driving ATVs at work. Employees face the same risk of an ATV accident that recreational drivers face.
What can employers do to prevent these accidents?
Employers should make certain the guidelines supplied by the manufacturers are followed. In addition, all employees who drive ATVs should wear helmets and receive training specific to driving the vehicles. ATVs do not handle like motorcycles and cars, and employees need to be trained specifically on driving these vehicles safely.
Can ATVs safely carry passengers and cargo?
ATVs are not meant to carry passengers. Employers should make certain that only the driver is on the ATV. When it comes to cargo, employers and employees need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as to the amount of cargo the ATV can safely carry.
We don’t usually consider flu much of an on-the-job hazard. We usually consider it the yearly irritant. It may keep us home for a day or two, but most of us quickly develop an immunity or already have one. It’s called seasonal flu, because it tends to show up in fall and winter. But a new alert from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses the threat of another kind of flu. The pandemic.
The latest Georgia worker safety alert warns both employers and workers to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic.
What is a flu pandemic? It’s what happens when a new strain of influenza arrives on the scene. With a new strain, there is no immunity. Scientists must rush to develop a new vaccine. That can take months. Meanwhile, the disease spreads rapidly from one person to another, enveloping the earth.
There is no new strain of flu. There is no new pandemic. Still, the danger of a pandemic is real. And with the pandemic could come enormous death tolls, social chaos, and global economic ruin, under the worst-case scenario.
Even now, the avian influenza – sometimes called bird flu – is a real concern. It starts in wild birds sometimes spreads to domestic flocks such as chickens and turkeys. There have been a few cases where it has spread to humans. So far, it has never moved from person to person. But if it mutates, the virus could do so, creating a pandemic.
The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed 25 million people in 25 weeks. That’s a staggering number compared to modern tragedies such as the AIDS virus, which has killed an equal number, but over the course of 25 years. During the 1918 pandemic, 20% of the population contracted the virus. And worldwide, 2.5% to 5% of the world’s total population died, sometimes within hours of contracting it. A 1957 flu pandemic took 1 million lives before being quickly contained. Both were strains of flu more familiar than the avian flu variety.
Georgia worker safety should be improved by new changes recently announced to OSHA polices. The hazards facing oil refinery workers are the main focus of these changes. After investigating the tragedy at the BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, OSHA made changes to its policies.
In 2005, the BP oil refinery in Texas City experienced an explosion. Tragically, this explosion injured over 100 employees and killed 15. The blast was intense, and flames shot into the air. Images of the fire were shown globally, and debris from the explosion covered nearby areas.
The oil refinery in Texas City had 1,800 employees. Losing this refinery reduced the US daily total of barrels of crude oil processed by about 3%. This reduction contributed to an increase in gasoline prices in the summer of 2006.
This terrible explosion also caused the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to focus on the safety of workers in oil refineries. The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) produced a report after investigating what happened in Texas City.
According to Edwin G. Foulke Jr., Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, “The refinery industry has been a major focus for OSHA, and the CSB report confirms we are on the right track. OSHA already has implemented two of the CSB’s three major recommendations and increased our inspections in the refining industry.”
To increase Georgia worker safety and the safety of workers in other states, OSHA has conducted many oil refinery inspections. Last year, over 100 refineries were inspected. In 2007, OSHA has inspected 50 refineries.
Sadly, when OSHA inspected a refinery owned by BP in Ohio, it discovered identical violations to those that caused the explosion in Texas City. The conclusion OSHA reached was that BP hadn’t learned from the previous tragedy that resulted in so many injuries and deaths. To improve safety conditions, OSHA has added new inspectors that are trained to inspect refineries.
An ATV driver lost her life when the vehicle she was operating on the job flipped over on her. Her employer had fitted it with an herbicide sprayer that was 55 pounds over the manufacturer’s recommended limit, according to OSHA.
A Georgia Worker Safety Alert has followed. Without training and safety precautions, deaths and injuries will increase. OSHA says the All-Terrain Vehicle, usually associated with recreation, is a growing part of the workplace. They’re found, for example, in farming, forestry, police work, and construction to get around quickly and easily on all kinds of ground.
In the fatality investigated by OSHA, the driver was applying herbicide to weeds when the accident occurred. The employer had had fitted the sprayer on the rear cargo rack, casing the vehicle to become more unstable. Driving on a steep incline over rough terrain contributed to the accident as well, according to OSHA.
The operator was driving uphill when the ATVs front wheels left the ground. The vehicle began to flip over, and she tried to stabilize it by standing up. When that failed, she tried unsuccessfully to jump out of the way, but was crushed. The heavy herbicide sprayer had redistributed the weight over the wheelbase.
OSHA has released a bulletin with guidelines for operation. The most important recommendation is training employees in the use of the ATV. While it has a reputation as a recreational vehicle sometimes operated by children, it is nevertheless tricky to maneuver — not at all similar in its operation to a car or truck. Employees should use helmets while operating All-Terrain Vehicles. OSHA also recommends following manufacturers’ weight guidelines.
With increasing use on the job, fatalities have increased. In the past 10 years, more than 100 workers have died in job-related ATV accidents.
ATV accidents are up generally. In recreational use, there was an increase from 29 to 470 in the 24-year period from 1982 to 2004. Injuries hit 136,100. There have been 800,000 accidents in the past ten years.