There are currently no specific OSHA standards for workplace violence.
However, under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm." The courts have interpreted OSHA's general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace free of conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous and that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard. OSHA has developed Enforcement Procedures and Scheduling for Occupational Exposure to Workplace Violence, which provides guidance and procedures to be followed when conducting inspections and issuing citations related to the occupational exposure to workplace violence.
An employer that has experienced acts of workplace violence, or becomes aware of threats, intimidation, or other indicators showing that the potential for violence in the workplace exists, would be on notice of the risk of workplace violence and should implement a workplace violence prevention program combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training.
OSHA Enforcement Letters of Interpretation
- Determining work-relatedness for recordkeeping of injury resulting from horseplay. (February 9, 2009).
- Staff-to-resident ratio in a nursing home and workplace violence. (August 14, 2006).
- Request for OSHA national policy banning guns from the workplace and OSHA enforcement policy regarding workplace violence. (September 9, 2006).
- OSHA's guidelines are advisory, do not create new employer obligations, and are not basis for citations. (June 7, 2004).
- OSHA's policy for scheduling occupational fatality investigations. (March 12, 1997).
- Guidelines for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs for Night Retail Establishments. (October 23, 1996).
- OSHA policy regarding violent employee behavior. (December 10, 1992).