Charles N. Jeffress
Press Conference Releasing the Recommendations
for Night Retail Workers
Worker Memorial Day
April 28, 1998
- On Worker Memorial Day we remember those who have lost their lives on the job. And we at OSHA rededicate ourselves to our mission of preventing those tragedies.
- Since OSHA was created 27 years ago, workplace fatalities have been cut in half. That's good news. Yet last year, more than 6,100 workers died in the workplace. Even one life lost is too many. Our mission -- and we join with our industry, labor and public partners in this -- is to prevent deaths on the job.
- Toward that end, today we want to talk about preventing workplace homicides -- the second leading cause of death in the workplace. Homicide is the number one cause of death for women on the job.
- Many of you in this room have helped in this effort. And we'll be introducing a number of people later.
- Although workplace murders declined somewhat in 1996, they still represented 15 percent of all deaths. That's more than 900 workers who went to work but never came home. And 80 percent of them died at the hands of robbers or other criminals.
- Almost half of workplace homicides occur in the retail industry, where those working late at night are particularly vulnerable. That is why our recommendations for preventing workplace violence focus on these establishments.
- I want you to know we are not helpless in this battle against crime in the workplace. It is possible to frustrate the plans of would-be criminals. It is possible to keep employees safe. We can get tough on those who are up to no good-and protect those who are just doing their jobs.
- First, let me say that the recommendations we are announcing today are voluntary and advisory in nature. We're not offering a new standard or regulation or substitute for a standard, just common sense recommendations.
- We're also not offering a fixed list of one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, we're giving employers a "toolbox" of options.
- We have put together an educational document designed to raise awareness about violence and outline a variety of measures to prevent it. By making it available, OSHA's goal is to reduce the number of homicides in late night retail as employers give careful thought to these suggestions and implement those that make sense for their worksites.
- According to the Department of Justice, between 1987 and 1992, nearly one million people annually were victims of violent crime at work. Though much of the violence may appear random, many incidents can be anticipated and avoided.
- We're recommending that late night retail operators develop violence prevention programs based on the major components of effective safety and health programs: management commitment and employee involvement; worksite analysis; hazard prevention and control; safety and health training; and evaluation.
- I want to emphasize that we are providing an array of possible strategies. These are practical, concrete steps. The ideas we're providing have come from convenience stores, gas stations, liquor stores and other facilities. Some are suggestions from law enforcement officials. None of them are brand new. Each has proven useful to other employers in similar facilities.
- Employers and employees will want to examine their operations from a variety of perspectives-from work practices to physical barriers to employee training. The options they select to reduce the risk of violence will depend upon their individual circumstances.
- For example, a gas station may find pass-through windows with bullet-resistant glass, increased lighting inside the station and over the pumps, and clearing windows of signs to permit an unobstructed view for police officers in the street to be useful measures.
- A convenience store might use video surveillance equipment, combined with an alarm system, convex mirrors in the store, and drop safes to foil would-be thieves.
- A liquor store in a high crime area might increase staffing levels at night and restrict customer access to only one door.
- A facility that backs up to a wooded area might increase lighting at the rear of the store, lock rear doors at night, and limit deliveries to daytime hours.
- All these facilities might find it helpful to train employees in emergency procedures to use in case of potential violence. Employees may also benefit from training in handling aggressive or abusive customers.
- OSHA's recommendations are not a fixed formula, but rather a listing of common sense strategies and practices that can help stop thieves. By making cash more difficult to get, store owners will discourage potential criminals and protect innocent employees....
- No one knows better how to do that than Wayland Clifton, former Police Chief from Gainesville, Florida. Wayland has joined us today to speak about the success he had in implementing workplace violence prevention programs....