Another Look at OSHA & Workplace Violence

I just finished reading a new book called HALT THE VIOLENCE, written and edited by Patricia Biles and her Alliance Against Workplace Violence group.  Here are some of my thoughts on it, if your organization has been evaluating workplace violence issues:

Here’s my review and why I think you should get it (Amazon) and take a look – it’s a short read — less than 150 pages.

I like the insider perspective on how to prevent violence in the workplace. Patricia Biles was a former OSHA (U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration) employee and their guru on violence issues.  Her work with industry groups and individuals has given her rare insight on the subject of stopping the epidemic of violence, and she gives practical solutions that employers and individuals can use to halt the violence.

The book covers the escalation of violence in the workplace and how OSHA reacted to the problem, which came to the forefront in 1989.  She identifies the groups most affected by violent events at work, including nurses, healthcare workers, taxi drivers, convenience stores, and late night retail establishments in particular.

As well as covering a complete history of the issue, she also weaves together input from other experts who specialize in aspects of the overall workplace violence problem, including the problem of violence in hospitals,  the increased incidents of bullying in the workplace, the importance of early intervention and practical strategies for diffusing angy, aggressive individuals.

The important of risk management procedures, such as performing regular threat assessments is identified as one of the few ways to identify individuals who may pose a threat, although the authors point out that both the Virginia Tech shooter and Jared Loughner, the diagnosed schizophrenic who shot Gabby Giffords, her staff, and innocent bystanders in Tucson, were both examined, and had psychological profiles which stated they were ‘unlikely’ to be a threat to others.

Specific violence-prone workplaces are also identified and specific recommendations given for hospitals, home health and social workers, and educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities.

In some ways, this is an insider’s book because it gives you the behind-the-headlines details, not only of major workplace violence incidents, but also a look at what it takes to create new laws and encourage congress and federal agencies to recognize the problem and take concrete steps to ‘halt the violence’!

All in all, this is a very insightful and practical look at a problem that affects every workplace and every person who goes to work and counts on returning home in the same condition.  Employers will want to implement the suggestions in the book on how to reduce violence in individual organizations, and it also offers a valuable perspective on how to comply with new OSHA standards and they continue to evolve their approach to this critical issue.