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Workplace violence has emerged as an occupational safety and health issue in many industries, especially in the late-night retail industry. However, by treating workplace violence as a preventable hazard, employers can develop practical, effective strategies to protect their employees from serious risk and provide a safe, healthful working environment.
As defined by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace. Acts of workplace violence include threats and verbal abuse, physical assaults and even homicide. Workplace violence has the ability to affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.
A number of factors increase a worker's exposure to assaults and violent acts. Some of those factors include, but are not limited to the following:
On January 11, 2012, Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres convened a meeting of the convenience store working group. Together, representatives from the Indiana Department of Labor, Indiana State Police, federal OSHA, trade associations and industry met to discuss worker safety and health measures in convenience stores. From the first meeting in January, it was clear the "convenience store working group" would be most appropriately named the "late-night retail working group" because workplace violence was not exclusive to convenience stores, but any retail store open to the public late at night or early in the morning. The group discussed recommendations and best practices for the prevention of workplace violence in such establishments.
During a second and public meeting of the working group held on February 16, 2012, Commissioner Torres established an oversight committee comprised of individuals from the Indiana Department of Labor, the Indiana Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association (IPCA) and a victim's family representative. The oversight committee was charged with conducting research and developing recommendations for additional actions to be taken by the working group.
The oversight committee's findings and recommendations were presented during a public meeting on June 12, 2012. A copy of the IDOL Report on Late Night Retail Workplace Violence is available online by clicking here. A brochure for the prevention of late-night retail workplace violence is available by clicking here. You can also find a check list of items to review at your place of business here.
In March 2012, the Indiana Department of Labor signed a strategic occupational safety and health alliance with the IPCA. The alliance formalizes occupational safety and health-related goals and objectives to provide IPCA members with consultation, outreach, resources and training about the prevention of workplace violence in late-night retail establishments. Representatives from the Indiana Department of Labor also participated as an exhibitor during the Midwest Petroleum and Convenience Tradeshow (MPACT). The goal of participation at MPACT was to provide convenience store owners and operators with occupational safety and health-related information, resources and materials. The alliance agreement is available online by clicking here.