Yesterday’s mass shooting at an Oregon Community College is another disgusting example of a damaged person taking out his problems on innocent bystanders. As these types of incidents continue, it is very important that employers and educational institutions do everything in their power to ensure a safe environment. We recently posted a blog on the importance of being proactive instead of waiting for a tragedy to occur before action is taken. We are re-posting its today because of its relevance:
What are You Waiting For, Employers of America?
By Patricia Kotze
When the shots ring out, the sounds of screaming employees can be heard, and the security cameras don’t work or are non-existent, a pre-employment background check was accidently skipped, no harassment/workplace bullying training is provided for managers or employees, no drug testing is performed and spending money on a security survey for the overall vulnerability of the business is not in the budget – what possibly can be the end result? A potential disaster and then the employees, their families and your clients start filing lawsuits against you and the business for negligence.
As a business owner or member of management you have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace for your best assets, your employees. Pre-employment background checks and drug tests should always be conducted in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) on any new hire to include temporary employees. Additionally a security survey assessment should be conducted yearly to ensure all security measures and programs in place are adequate, up to date with the business needs and that they will counter any risks that the business is confronted with, whether it’s through cyber threats, fraud, embezzlement of company funds or property, or the ever growing threat of employee workplace violence as a result of harassment, discrimination or abusive-conduct bullying.
Under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, employers are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that “is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employees.”
Any employer that has experienced workplace violence, or knew or should of known of potential threats, intimidation, or other indicators exposing employees to violence in the workplace should immediately implement a workplace violence prevention program and training for all managers and employees to heightened their awareness of what signs to be on the look for and how to prevent harassment/bullying incidents from escalating out of control. Why wait until it’s too late; put a security-risk line item in company’s budget before you need an attorney for a crisis.