The already-high stakes of workplace violence recently got raised.

For the first time, OSHA has given its inspectors guidelines for investigating violent incidents at work – and chances are they’ll respond with more inspections and fines.

Employers in high-risk businesses like health care, low-income services and retail banking are the most likely to be inspected.

Workplace hazard
But any employer can be the target of a post-violence inspection if three or more people are hurt, or one is killed, and OSHA deems the incident resulted from a “workplace hazard” — which could range from a particularly risky time of day, to a dangerous location.

One way of minimizing workplace violence: Train people to recognize the tell-tale signs that someone is likely to turn violent, and encourage them to report such signs.

Watch out for employees who:

  • are feared or considered unpleasantly odd by a number of co-workers.
  • obsess about something – the job, a celebrity, a co-worker who has no interest in them.
  • regularly claim they are being unfairly targeted by co-workers or management, or that conspiracies are controlling politics or economics.
  • frequently grow angry or argumentative.
  • express desperation about financial, family or personal matters.
  • constantly want to “get” someone for wronging them.
  • talk a lot about media reports of violence, and/or the killing power of weapons.

See the OSHA guidelines at: www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html

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