What can Union Stewards do investigate and help prevent workplace violence


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Identifying hazards, collecting information and documenting incidents is a very important part of addressing workplace violence problems. A hazard assessment is a method of identifying, analyzing and documenting workplace hazards. Assessing workplace violence hazards involves some of the same tools used to document any other workplace safety or health problem. These include checklists and surveys, investigating incidents and reviewing available records.

  1. Inspect the Workplace —have a list that contains a workplace violence inspection checklist that can be used as part of a safety and health inspection or safety audit. While inspecting for workplace violence risk factors, review the physical facility and note the presence or absence of security measures. Local law enforcement officials may also be able to conduct a security audit or provide information about their experiences with crime in the area.
  2. Conduct a Survey —The most important source of information on workplace hazards is workers. In fact, workers may be the only source of information on workplace violence hazards since management may not document incidents (or near misses). In addition, conducting regular surveys may also enable the local union to evaluate workplace violence prevention measures. Information can be collected either through a written questionnaire distributed to workers or through one-on one personal interviews. A written survey may be appropriate if the union wants personal or sensitive information. For example, a worker may be reluctant to voice to a union representative fears about a co-worker but may be more willing to describe the problem in an anonymous questionnaire. Alternatively, a one-on-one interview is a good technique for organizing as it gets people talking about their jobs and working conditions. Oral surveys are also a way to involve workers who do not read well. Appendices B through E contain samples of workplace violence surveys.
  3. Analyze Safety Records — By reviewing records of prior instances of workplace violence, local unions may be able to identify factors that contributed to the incident. Some of these documents must be requested from the employer. Others (for example, medical records or workers’ compensation records) may require permission from the affected worker. Sensitive or confidential information may not be necessary to analyze the incidents; a summary of the information that includes at least the nature of the injury and type of treatment needed may be sufficient.

Types of Records to Review

[Write an intro] We want the committee to request these documents from the employer. If the employer fails, it’s a violation of the NLRA and you may need to file a charge.

Request from the Employer:

  1. Injury and Illness Log (OSHA Form 300) for the past two years to determine if any assaults or injuries associated with violence have been reported.
  2. Workers’ compensation records for the past two years to see if any worker has applied for medical or lost time benefits due to a workplace violence injury.
  3. Incident reports (including threats) to detect any patterns of workplace violence.
  4. Minutes or records from labor/management or safety committee meetings where issues of workplace violence were discussed or raised.
  5. Complaints made by employees, citizens, clients, patients or customers about violent or threatening incidents.

Other Records to Obtain

[Write an intro] More information that’s important, but you need to obtain it from the proper source. 

  • Police reports on violent incidents or suspicious activity in and around the workplace.
  • Grievances and arbitrations related to workplace violence such as harassment, assaults, security hazards or threats.
  • Correspondence between the union, management, OSHA or any other official pertaining to workplace violence or security.
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