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National News Release   USDL: 98-179
Tuesday, April 28, 1998
Contact: Bonnie Friedman (202) 219-8151
Al Belsky (202) 219-8211


Calling for an end to killings of workers in late-night retail establishments, U.S. Secretary of Labor, Alexis M. Herman today released recommendations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that could significantly reduce the number of employees murdered or injured on the job during robberies and other violence acts.

"OSHA's Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments provide a common sense approach to stemming the risks and hazards too often associated with late night jobs," Herman said. "These guidelines can help employees and their employers avoid being victims."

Herman added, "The statistics are shocking. Homicide is the number one killer of women in the workplace, and the second leading cause for all American workers. And 48% of all homicides in the workplace occur in retail. The risk is apparently greater for those who work at night in convenience stores, liquor stores and gasoline stations. We must do all we can to insure the safety of all of America's workers as they strive to make a decent wage to sustain themselves and their families."

OSHA's research shows that employees are at greater risk of homicide or assault if they are involved in the exchange of money, have routine contact with the public, work alone or in small numbers, work late or very early hours and work in high crime areas. According to data recently released by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, murders accounted for 13.5% of occupational-related deaths between 1980 and 1994.

"Some industries, unions and advocacy groups are taking the lead in fighting back to reduce the risks of violence in the workplace. But we can do more," Herman said. "I urge all late night retail employers, whether large or small, to consider these recommendations and implement them to enhance the safety of their workers and their customers."

Herman stressed that the recommendations are not "a one size fits all" approach. But suggest that employers tailor a prevention program specific to their needs.

The recommendations have five key elements to an effective violence prevention program:

(1) management commitment and employee involvement; (2) worksite analysis; (3) hazard prevention and control; (4) training and education; and (5) evaluation.

OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress said, "Our recommendations are not a new standard or regulation nor a substitute for any current standards. They are tools that we hope will raise the awareness of employers and provide them with the information they need to help protect their employees."

Jeffress outlined some of the report's objectives. The first objective is to prevent violence, which begins with management commitment and employee involvement. All violent and threatening incidents should be taken seriously and that management should develop a plan for workplace security, working with police and other public safety agencies to improve physical security.

Worksite analysis includes identifying risk factors common in retail establishments, such as contact with the public, money exchange and working alone or in small numbers or in high-crime areas. Such analysis should also include a review of past incidents, a workplace security review and a periodic safety audits.

Hazard prevention and control includes using adequate lighting, installing video surveillance cameras, drop safes and physical barriers. It is also recommended that businesses limit areas of customer access, increase staff levels at night, establish emergency communications procedures and implement standard operating procedures for both management and employees to follow in the aftermath of a violent incident.

Training and educating all employees, supervisors and security personnel to ensure awareness of potential security hazards and the procedures for protecting themselves and co-workers.

An evaluation is the final recommendation, for employers to develop a process that helps them assess risk factors, evaluate methods of hazard control, and identify training needs. This process should include record keeping, incident reports, police recommendations and notes of safety meetings.

Editor's Note: Copies of the report, Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments (OSHA publication #3153) are available to the news media, free-of-charge, by contacting OSHA's Office of Public Affairs at (202) 219-8151. All other individuals should contact either OSHA's Publication Office at (202) 219-4667, or the U.S. Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800.

Workplace Violence Prevention Programs

Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Violence in the workplace is a major safety and health issue. An average of 1,000 workers are murdered, and nearly a million are assaulted in the workplace each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 1996, homicide continues to be the second leading cause of death for all American workers and the leading cause for women. There were 912 workplace homicides in 1996, accounting for 15 per cent of the total 6,112 fatal work injuries in the United States.

Although homicides have decreased nationally, and in workplaces overall, homicides in the retail trade industry increased and accounted for 48 percent of the workplace homicides in 1996. Below are some of the voluntary recommendations OSHA announced in the April 1998 publication titled Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late Night Retail Establishments (OSHA publication #3153).

These recommendations are based on a violence prevention program including five components: (1) management commitment and employee involvement; (2) worksite analysis; (3) hazard prevention and control; (4) safety and health training; and (5) evaluation.

Common Risk Factors in Retail Establishments:
  • Contact with the public

  • Exchange of money

  • Delivery of passengers, goods, or services

  • Working alone or in small numbers

  • Working late night or early morning hours

  • Working in high-crime areas

OSHA recognizes that each establishment is different, and accordingly, the recommendations encourage employers to evaluate their needs and adopt one or more, or all, of the following recommendations. (These are not all inclusive; please refer to the OSHA publication #3153.)
  • Improve visibility by providing adequate lighting and installing mirrors; keep signs and shelves low.

  • Install drop safes and signs that indicate little cash is kept on-hand.

  • Maintain video surveillance.

  • Provide silent and personal alarms.

  • Establish emergency procedures including communications systems, training and education.

  • Restrict customer access by reducing store hours and closing portions of a store.

  • Take precautions when going to remote, isolated spots such as garbage areas and outdoor freezers.

  • Lock doors not in use.

  • Increase staffing during high-risk periods.

  • Install bullet-resistant enclosures.

Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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