Workplace safety and health hazards affecting employees have traditionally been viewed as arising from unsafe work practices, hazardous industrial conditions, or exposures to harmful chemical, biologic or physical agents, not from violent acts committed by other human beings. Recently, though, employees, as well as supervisors and managers, have become all too frequent victims of assaults or other violent acts in the workplace which entail a substantial risk of physical or emotional harm. Many of these assaults result in fatal injury, but an even greater number result in nonfatal injury, or in the threat of injury, which can lead to medical treatment, missed work, lost wages and decreased productivity.
A single explanation for the increase in workplace violence is not readily available. Some episodes of workplace violence, like robberies of small retail establishments, seem related to the larger societal problems of crime and substance abuse. Other episodes seem to arise more specifically from employment-related problems.
What can be done to prevent workplace violence? Any preventive measure must be based on a thorough understanding of the risk factors associated with the various types of workplace violence. And, even though our understanding of the factors which lead to workplace violence is not perfect, sufficient information is available which, if utilized effectively, can reduce the risk of workplace violence. However, strong management commitment, and the day-to-day involvement of managers, supervisors, employees and labor unions, is required to reduce the risk of workplace violence.
Even though many of the causes of workplace violence have their origin outside the workplace, and even though there are gaps in our fund of knowledge about how to prevent the occurrence of some types of workplace assaults, enough is currently known about the problem for us to make a start.
As the statistics in these Guidelines indicate, workplace violence has become a serious occupational health problem whose solution will require all of our efforts. The problem cannot be solved by government alone.
Cal/OSHA invites employers, labor unions, employees, occupational health and safety professionals, the public health community, other government agencies and security professionals to continue to work with us in developing and promoting strategies to prevent workplace violence.
LATE NIGHT RETAIL VIOLENCE PREVENTION CHECKLIST
Source: Cal OSHA
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