The Ultimate Guide on OSHA Workplace Violence Standards

OSHA workplace violence standards require a place of employment to be “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” (OSHA

This includes threats, verbal abuse, assault, and homicide involving employees, management, clients or visitors. 

Employers are responsible for assessing worksites to identify the risk factors and enforcing methods to reduce the likelihood of incidents happening again. Therefore, a workplace violence protection program should be established and enforced.

We’ve compiled this guide to get you started on the right track.

Why Workplace Violence Is an Occupational Safety and Health Risk

When considering occupational safety and health risks in the workplace, the first thing that comes to mind is accidents surrounding tools and machinery. 

But, workplace violence was the third-highest cause of fatalities in the US in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI).

Workplace violence includes physical violence and other threatening disruptive behavior. By OSHA standards, threats, harassment, intimidation and emotional abuse constitute workplace violence, as violence doesn’t always have to be physical to put a victim’s safety and health at risk.

Non-fatal injuries can require medical treatment or lead to missed work or decreased productivity, resulting in lost wages. 

osha workplace violence standard

Who Is at Risk of Workplace Violence?

Any employee at their place of work can be at risk of workplace violence. This is because the abuse can come from a large variety of sources:

But, certain employees can be at a higher risk than others, such as:

What Can Employers Do for Workplace Violence Prevention?

The first thing that employers need to do is identify employees and situations they might be in that could lead to possible risks, such as those mentioned above. 

Employers can utilize an interdisciplinary threat assessment team to assess the workplace and determine the risk factors for violence. The team can include:

Brainstorm and implement solutions to manage the risk factors, such as: 

Establish the appropriate channels for victims or employees who consider themselves at risk. These could be HR or EAP, and they can also be trained to rehabilitate the perpetrator should they be an employee and be allowed to rejoin the workplace.

Develop a violence prevention program and enforce training for all staff to be incorporated into a safety and health program, employee handbook, or SOP manual. 

Take note that OSHA has no specific regulations about violence in the workplace, as all offences are heavily reliant on context. What OSHA does require is occupational safety and health for all employees. You need to ensure that through the violence prevention measures you implement.

osha workplace violence standard

How is Workplace Violence Involved in an OSHA Inspection?

During an OSHA inspection, certain factors will be assessed where workplace violence has occurred.

If the incident of violence meets these four criteria, the employer will be issued a fine.

Any incident requiring medical attention over and above first aid constitutes an OSHA recordable incident. In addition, if your company has more than eleven employees, recordable incidents should be documented on a Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) for OSHA compliance.

An OSHA inspector may ask to view these records, so records of injury and illness must be kept on-site for at least five years. 

How Insure Compliance Can Help

We have curated a Safety Gap Model that identifies any of these five gaps in a company safety program. When it comes to workplace violence, it’s important to quickly address any gaps.

Awareness gap: understand what you, as a company, are required to do to protect your employees from workplace violence;

Process gap: expressly detail behavior not allowed in the workplace in an employee handbook as well as contractor agreements; document with a workplace violence policy;

Knowledge gap: reinforce that policy with training for all employees, and possibly even contractors;

Verification gap: visit the workplace, engage with employees, inspect the behavior; and

Accountability gap: keep employees accountable for behavior that does not meet your workplace policies.

In the case of workplace violence prevention, we suggest training staff on a zero-tolerance policy, and management training on how to identify unusual behaviors that could result in violence, such as:

Key Takeaways

Any form of human to human abuse in the workplace is considered as violence, whether parties are employees of the company or not.

As well as being physical, violence can also be emotional or through verbal threats.

Employers are responsible for identifying the factors contributing to workplace violence risks and coming up with solutions to manage them.

Minimizing the risk of compromising employees’ occupational safety and health will not only raise collective morale but can also decrease your chances of being fined in the event of an OSHA inspection.

Contact Insure Compliance today, and we can bridge the safety gaps in your company by providing practical context-specific training and ensuring its implementation.


Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available to businesses. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal, safety or business advice. You should, where necessary, seek your own advice for any issues raised in your affairs.

One Response

  1. Yes I have been harrassed at my job for over a year now. I work for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and it started when I was a temp.
    The attorney who is over the LAPSA (George Allen Courthouse) Dallas, TX would use profanity toward me and would physically remove letters, envelopes out of my hand if I made a mistake. Being a black man I did not want any problems I have enough already but the abuse continued and I was afraid until I became permanent.
    Once I informed the Union, the union began to investigate and it got worse for me.

    Fast Forward a year and half later and now I am being written up for misspelled words, combative and hostile, (only black man at legal aid for awhile) and I was like wow she is a white female, HR director is a white female, My managing supervisor is a white female but I am the one that is combative and hostile.
    My work supervisor attorney was in 3 physical altercation with applicant due to the fact she used profanity at them and were about to fight but I managed to persuade to calm down and leave the office. Being the only black man someone has to be the scapegoat. I have no write ups until I informed the union on how I was being treated. Now I have low-self esteem, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, and have no idea what to do next because they are looking for things to write me up about. Please help me. Witness Claudio Cano(Union Rep) she noticed the change in me mentally and physically. Christina Talton(medical leave) she is being harrassed and mistreated as well. There are more black employees but I know they will not say anything. How I know because I am a union steward and they told me.

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