“No worker should ever have to sacrifice their physical well-being to earn a paycheck.”
Richard Mendelson, OSHA regional administrator, Philadelphia

There’s a change that’s emerging in the world of workplace violence prevention for mobile workers. Without the protection of co-workers, CCTV, security details or other building zone type security measures, visiting and field workers truly work on their own and are some of the most vulnerable of worker groups in the US.  In an effort to protect the vulnerable and at risk, Health and Safety legislation from OSHA requires that:

“Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace”
Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act)

What is shifting is the development of a further clarity on what a workplace is defined as and the continued realization evolving that the workplace goes far beyond the office parking lot. The statement above from OSHA relates to a recent case where an employer was cited for “failing to protect its employees from life-threatening hazards of workplace violence and failing to provide an effective workplace violence prevention program” in the case of a pediatric mobile worker employee who was sexually assaulted. The facets of key importance in this case are that:

  • The worker was in question was a home care employee working in the home of a client.
  • The cited organization had received warnings and information of “previous incidents of verbal, physical and sexual assaults on employees” *
  • A further incident was reported to OSHA investigators that an employee had been “forced to work in a house in which domestic violence occurred” *
  • The cited organization had been found to have “failed to provide an effective workplace violence prevention program”*

All items marked * taken from original OSHA press release here.

Cases like these show without ambiguity that the safety of these most vulnerable of worker types lies with the employer and that strategies to achieve this will be formed of many parts to include:

  • A means for an affected employee to report when their safety is threatened in an instance of workplace violence.
  • An official written Workplace Violence Prevention Program
  • Procedures to control Workplace Violence such as in the case of a known or evident hazardous situation
  • A risk and hazard assessment for all clients including new clients at time of joining
  • Specific procedures to be taken in the event of an incident of workplace violence, including incident reports and investigations

These requirements echo the gradual movement over some years, to implement increasingly robust workplace violence rules and laws. Some states like Washington have had these in place since 1999.  The latest state however to set out clear directives for the prevention of workplace violence in Healthcare settings is California. Some long term campaigners for these reforms regard the structure and content in Section 3342 Workplace Violence Prevention in Health care CAL/OSHA act as having far reaching impact to healthcare workers beyond the state of California. We’re encouraged to see the developments in protecting employee personal safety in this sector and will be actively tracking it’s progress and remaining committed to a development roadmap that complements and enhances the implementation of Workplace Violence prevention in healthcare…..and indeed beyond. GuardianMPS have extensive experience in assisting organizations to satisfy the demands of personal safety legislation, from our earlier experience as market leaders in the UK and Europe for mobile personal safety/Lone worker systems. Talk to our solution consultants today or leave a message to ask a question, we’ll be glad to help.