# Creating a Safe Workplace: Legalities and Preventative Measures
By Liz Hartsel
**Introduction to Workplace Safety**
In accordance with federal and state job safety laws, employers must provide a secure work environment for their employees. Unfortunately, incidents of workplace violence have become increasingly common in recent years. Employers are now, more than ever, concerned with identifying potential vulnerabilities and preventing or reducing the risk of harm to their employees.
**The Incident That Sparked It All**
A recent incident involving an employer and their local staff highlighted the need for a comprehensive company gun policy. During a team-building event at a performance venue, it was discovered that one employee was carrying a firearm. Although the employee had a concealed carry permit, the venue’s policy did not allow firearms of any kind, resulting in the employee being denied entry.
This incident led the employer to seek assistance in crafting a company gun policy to address similar situations in the future.
**Creating a Weapons Policy in the Workplace**
When creating a weapons policy, employers should consider two key points:
1. **Concealed Carry Laws**: Employers should be aware of their state’s concealed carry laws, as they vary widely and can impact the implementation of a workplace weapons policy.
2. **Parking Lot Laws**: Many states have enacted parking lot firearm laws that govern the carrying and storage of firearms in employee parking lots. It is crucial for employers to understand these laws to ensure compliance and legal protection.
**Employer Liability for Workplace Violence**
Employers can be held liable for workplace violence if it is proven that they knowingly disregarded potential dangers in the workplace and did nothing to address them. Areas of employer liability related to workplace violence include third-party liability, negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, and negligent training.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines the criteria for establishing employer liability in cases of workplace violence, including the existence of a hazard, knowledge of the hazard, the likelihood of harm, and the availability of feasible abatement methods.
**Preventive Measures to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence**
In the absence of a legally feasible weapons-free workplace policy, employers can implement various measures to identify, contain, and mitigate the risk of workplace violence. These measures include:
– Strengthening employee background checks
– Implementing a written code of employee conduct regarding weapons and violence
– Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for violence and harassment
– Providing employee assistance programs for stress and mental health support
– Offering conflict resolution training
– Having an emergency response plan and conducting security protocol reviews
– Understanding state laws regarding searches of employee property
**FAQs on Reducing Workplace Violence**
What is the first step in managing workplace violence?
Employers need to be aware of potential issues or dangers in the workplace in five primary areas: third-party liability, negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, and negligent training, and immediately address them if and when they arise.
What policies can be put in place to prevent workplace violence?
OSHA’s website contains information and valuable tools to help employers prevent workplace violence and develop employee guidelines and training.
What are the liabilities of workplace violence?
If an employer knowingly disregards potential dangers in the workplace and does nothing to address them, then OSHA, a victim, or the victim’s family can hold the employer liable for resulting injuries.
**About the Author**
Liz Hartsel, an employment lawyer, assists businesses and employees in navigating labor and employment laws. She proactively mitigates the risk of employment claims and has experience representing both sides of disputes regarding workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims.
Company: Fortis Law Partners
LinkedIn: [Connect with Liz Hartsel](https://www.linkedin.com/in/liz-hartsel-2a54815/)
By addressing the legalities and providing preventative measures, employers can better protect their employees and minimize potential legal consequences associated with workplace violence.