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FL ASSE Member, OSHA, Others Sign Alliance To Address Workplace Violence

Posted in on Thu, Mar 5, 2009

Des Plaines, IL (March 5, 2009) — In 2007 workplace homicides in the U.S. increased by 13 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Pensacola chapter this week is partnering with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and several major organizations to “reduce and prevent exposure to workplace violence” in Florida.

OSHA, ASSE, EAP Lifestyle Management, LLC., Sacred Heart Health System, Inc., Employee Assistance Professional (EAP) Association Big Bend Chapter, Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, University of South Florida Consultation Program, the Northwest Florida Association of Occupational Health Nurses, Inc., EAP Lifestyle Management, LLC., Sacred Heart Health System, Inc., will formalize an Alliance today to provide workers from all industries with information, guidance, and access to training resources that will help protect employees’ health and safety, particularly in reducing and preventing exposure to workplace violence.

“We look forward to working with OSHA, the Alliance partners, our ASSE members, employers and communities throughout the greater Pensacola area in raising awareness of this major issue and working to prevent any future injuries or fatalities,” Maralee Sartain, ASSE Pensacola chapter president said today. The signing will take place during the ASSE Pensacola Chapter meeting 6 p.m. tonight at the Pensacola Civic Center.

“I am especially pleased that we can come together like this to not only recognize that this is a major issue, but to continue to work together as a team to help employers and employees recognize that there are ways they can address this issue,” James D. Borders, OSHA area director for the Jacksonville Area Office said today.

According to Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) studies it is estimated that each year nearly 355,000 establishments or 5 percent of all workplaces will experience a workplace violence episode. This study showed that between 1993 and 1999 incidents ranged from homicides at about 900 annually to simple assaults at about 1.3 million incidents annually; while only about 8.8 percent of businesses have a workplace violence prevention program according to the BLS.

An ASSE “Workplace Violence Survey of ASSE members & White Paper” done by the ASSE Risk Management and Insurance (RM/I) Practice Specialty found that many companies and organizations in all industries had yet to address the problem of workplace violence.

Noting that one size does not fit all, the ASSE RM/I members suggested employers consider doing the following to address the prevention of workplace violence:
• Officers and directors – establish a workplace violence prevention policy; upper management must promote a clear antiviolence corporate policy; and, establish and maintain security policies.
• Human resource managers – examine and improve hiring practices; implement prescreening techniques; utilize background checks; encourage employees to report threats or violent behavior; establish termination policies; and, provide post-termination counseling.
• Risk management and safety, health and environmental departments – train all employees in the warning signs of aggressive or violent behavior; train management in threat assessment and de-escalation techniques; conduct a formal workplace violence risk assessment; increase security as needed; develop and communicate a contingency plan to all employees which includes crisis management; review insurance coverage and verify coverage and exclusions; and, identify a defensive strategy.

The BLS preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported that there were 5,488 workplace fatalities in 2007. Homicides were reported by the BLS to be one of the leading causes of on-the-job deaths, an increase of 13 percent, in 2007 with 491 people dying as a result of a shooting and 39 people died from being stabbed. The BLS notes that workplace homicides involving police officers and supervisors of retail sales workers both saw substantial increases in 2007.

Sartain said alliance members will: work with OSHA to provide expertise to develop training and education programs for employers on workplace violence issues and to provide expertise in communicating such information to all employers and employees; and, deliver and/or arrange for the delivery of training on workplace violence prevention and follow-up.

The alliance members will also be available to speak, exhibit, or appear at participating organizations’ conference meetings or other events to discuss the issue along with promoting a national dialogue on workplace violence through participating in forums, round table discussions, and stakeholder meetings on workplace violence problems to help forge innovative solutions.

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. The Pensacola Chapter was chartered on December 13, 1979 and was the 101st chapter to receive a Charter. For over 25 years the chapter has worked to promote the advancement of the safety profession and safety professionals along Florida’s Gulf coast. Our Chapter’s boundaries range from Panama City to Tallahassee and encompass the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Washington and Wakulla. For more information on the alliance please go to http://www.asse.org or http://pensacola.asse.org/ or www.osha.gov.



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