Workplace Violence: Can the Risk be Mitigated?

By Martha J. Zackin

Workplace violence is once again in the headlines, due to the horrific, on-air murders of a journalist and cameraman allegedly by a disgruntled former employee of the television station that employed the two victims.

But what exactly is workplace violence?  Workplace violence, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), may be defined as violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty.  The results of workplace violence may range from offensive language to homicide; the circumstances may include robbery-associated violence; violence by disgruntled clients, customers, patients, inmates, residents, and the like; violence by coworkers, employees, or employers; and domestic violence that finds its way into the workplace.

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OSHA announces new requirements for reporting severe injuries

By Steven D. Weatherhead

Commencing on January 1, 2015, employers must report the following to the nearest OSHA-area office:

  •  Within 8 hours, a death in the workplace (regardless of reason or cause)
  •  Within 24 hours, and as a result of a workplace incident, the (1) hospital admission of one or more workers; (2) an amputation; and/or (3) loss of an eye.

Under the current rule, which stays into effect until December 31, 2014, employers must report a death or hospital admission of 3 or more employees, all within 8 hours.

Failure to follow these requirements can result in a $7,000 civil penalty (up to $70,000 for repeat violations) and hinder an employer’s ability to argue “good faith” in defending any resulting citations.

For more information, as well as a list of industries that, due to relatively low injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep illness and injury records, click here.

 

 

New Beginning

I discovered the joys of blogging in 2009, when I helped launch an employment law-related blog at another firm.  I recently joined Bello/Welsh, LLP, a boutique labor and employment law firm, where I am excited to be launching our new blog.

Our primary goal here at WorkLawBlog (worklawblog.net) is to educate you about interesting developments in labor and employment law (and our firm).  If we can entertain you along the way, all the better.

On to business… much has happened recently.

  • The Department of Labor issued a final rule extending the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage and overtime protections to direct care workers who provide home care assistance to elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities.   Companionship workers, or individual workers who are employed only by the person receiving services or that person’s family or household and engaged primarily in fellowship and protection and care incidental to such activities, will still be considered exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections.  You can access the DOL’s press release here.
  • The National Labor Relations Board launched its first mobile app, available free to iPhone and Android users.  According to the NLRB’s press release, the app provides information for employees, unions and employers- whether unionized or not- with information about their rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act.  The NLRB joins the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, both of which have already launched apps.  Click here for the WHD timesheet app and here for OSHA’s heat index for outdoor workers safety app.

And last (for now), but certainly not least…

  •  A NY federal court judge has ruled that Lady Gaga’s former personal assistant is entitled to have a jury decide her claim for unpaid overtime.  According to the former assistant, she was required to be on-call 24/7 and should be paid nearly $400,000 for 7,000 of overtime hours, worked over the course of 13 months.