Thursday, January 06, 2005

APHA Calls for OSHA Workplace Violence Standard

The American Public Health Association at their recent conference, passed a resolution calling upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to "promulgate an enforceable standard on occupational violence prevention."

Despite former OSHA director John Henshaw's reluctance to recognize workplace violence as a legitimate problem for OSHA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that workplace violence --including assaults and suicides-- accounted for 16% of all work-related fatal occupational injuries in 2003. Homicides have consistently been one of thethe top three causes of workplace fatalities. The number of workplace homicides was higher in 2003 -- the first increase since 2000 -- although the 631 workplace homicides recorded in 2003 represented a 42 percent decline from the high of 1,080 workplace homicides recorded in 1994.

There were almost 18,000 serious injuries and illnesses resulting from workplace assaults in private industry in 2002.

APHA also stated that:
Federal health and safety agencies should increase funding for occupational violence prevention research, especially intervention research, evaluating the impact of violence prevention strategies.
OSHA has published two guidelines on preventing workplace violence (for health care workers and for late night retail workers) in addition to numerous fact sheets. And a long time ago, seemingly in a galaxy far away, federal OSHA used to cite employers for failure to protect employees from workplace assaults. CalOSHA still does.