Workplace Violence Prevention and OSHA Directives

This guest blog contributed by strategic partner and workplace violence and security consultant, Felix Nater of Nater Associates, LTD with offices in  North Carolina and New York.


New OSHA Directive Tackles Workplace Violence Concerns…What Are You Doing About It?

In the last 15 years, deaths resulting from workplace violence have ranked among the top four causes of occupational fatalities in American workplaces. In response to this serious threat to worker safety, OSHA released a new compliance directive on Sept. 8. 2010 that offers procedures for agency staff who respond to workplace violence cases or complaints. Caution is always recommended in assuming that compliance is prevention. If you don’t educate compliance merely becomes another checklist.


While incidents of Workplace Homicides are down, incidents of non violent acts have increased. Workplaces should not only look at the homicidal reasons for why employee might “go postal’ but for contributing factors and the unintentional consequences of workplace policies and the unknown risks of such overlooked threats committed by non violent employees (harassment, sabotage to systems and operations, product contamination, theft of sensitive information, compromise of proprietary information, theft of services, identity theft, work slow down etc., etc.,).


Recent acts of defiance by non violent people are your employees. Such behavior gives rise for concern in our workplaces from groups who might resort to non violent act of retaliation as described above.  Do not make the assumption that just because the defiance is focused on the financial community or away from the workplace that, the frustrations of victimization at large can’t find their way into the workplaces. When it comes to justification and rationale, I have seen the gamut in terms of the behavior and reasoning.


Workplace Violence Prevention Policies and Plans can better serve the workplace in identifying potential contributing factors and at risk situations through collaboration and integration of resources.  Violent prone employees become so by their workplace, environmental and societal experiences or perhaps even changes in their mental well being. The lead-in to acts of homicidal vengeance is a methodical choice that, I think is based on their brand of rationale and justification. Exploiting workplaces by the non violent employee doesn’t involve decisions of life and death but ones of retribution and retaliation against organizations that have the financial capability to withstand the threat. The non violent threat can become more destructive if the rationale is tied to the businesses capability to withstand the risks.


Take the implementation of Workplace Violence Prevention and Security Awareness seriously. Begin the process by conducting thoughtful workplace risk assessments. The assessment should include security and business practices alike. Include employees in the process by utilizing surveys that attempt to uncover signs of disgruntled behavior or conditions exacerbated by supervision and management business practices. Reduce existing security gaps in your current operations. Institute countermeasures that provide as early warning signals of problems on the rise. Support employee victims and complaints who come forward. Aggressive monitor and respond to employee hotline or complaint lines. Create an impression that the leadership cares,


Don’t assume that non violent acts of workplace violence will not rise to a level of concern because you will find yourself asking why you didn’t take preemptive measures early on. Know that this threat’s capability is unknown but devastating in terms of impact on many; including the organization’s production, perform standing and reputation along the way.


Take the following 10 steps NOW to minimize your risks and identify contributory practices and procedures:

– Be proactive.

– Implement credible reporting systems.

– Educate supervisors and managers on recognizing at risk situations.

– Conduct a thorough workplace violence risk assessment.

– Review existing security management and emergency preparedness measures.

– Evaluate the effectiveness of your emergency evacuation plans.

– Train your workforce on the consequences of violent and non-violent acts.

– Hold all employees accountable and responsible for engaging in or failing to report at risk situations.

– Conduct annual facility and employee assessments.

– Include workplace violence prevention in your New Employee Orientations.


Felix Nater

  • 516-285-8484


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