As the news continues to remind us on a daily basis, the number of incidents related to workplace violence continue to rise at a rapid pace around the country. We tend to think that these events are so far removed from our daily lives that they will never happen to us. However, the unfortunate reality is that businesses, even dealerships, need to be prepared for these kinds of events should the situation present itself. As a third generation dealer myself, I was much like everyone else and believed that workplace violence would never happen at my store – until it happened to a neighboring dealership.
In June of 2019, I was working at our Honda dealership in Northern California when an active shooter event happened at the Ford dealership directly across the street. It was an absolutely terrifying experience not only for me but also for our staff. When you are in charge of keeping your employees and customers safe, it is a harrowing experience to feel completely helpless in a high stakes situation because anything could have happened.
What then happened was what you would expect: we sheltered in place, law enforcement descended on the scene, and the issue was resolved. But what was not expected was what happened in the aftermath. Even though the event occurred at the dealership across the street, it carried long term effects on our staff at our dealership. What if this person ran across the street and into the Honda dealership? What is the staff supposed to do? How do we protect our staff? This event made us take a long and hard look at reinforcing our existing policies and training courses to be better prepared for the future.
Why is This Important?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued its first ever citation to a business based on workplace violence and pointed back to the General Duty Clause of the OSHA Act. The General Duty Clause requires that all employers must provide a work environment for their employees that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
A security company in Idaho was cited for a “serious” violation of the General Duty Clause when a security officer was fatally shot while on patrol. The officer approached a patron who was openly carrying a firearm and was asked to leave the premises. The patron was known to security officers and the security company for openly carrying firearms in the past. The patron initially started to walk away then quickly turned around to shoot the officer three times. OSHA cited the security company because it “repeatedly exposed its employees at the [mall] to workplace violence hazards and failed to follow its own procedures for interacting with armed individuals to enforce the [mall’s] code of conduct.” For more information, refer to this article written by the team at Fisher Phillips. It is going to change the perspective on trainings and policies as we know it.
OSHA has stated that they are currently working on language for workplace violence regulations for the healthcare industry (the current industry with the highest workplace violence incidents) and the California Division of OSHA is working on proposed general industry workplace violence standards. It is only a matter of time until OSHA follows suit to expand to the general industry.
Not only is it our job to provide a safe and healthy work environment for our staff, but it is up to us as owners, managers, and supervisors to ensure that they are properly trained to know what to do in a time of crisis. This is the perfect time to be proactive in your existing training and policies. ComplyAuto has made it its top priority to provide dealers with all of the necessary tools to further this goal. The next time you sign into the ComplyAuto dashboard, navigate to “Workforce” (Upper right and change the product to “ComplyAuto Workforce”) to take advantage of our free policy builders in the following areas:
- Active Shooter Policy
- Anti Workplace Violence Policy
- Weapons in the Workplace Policy
The “Weapons in the Workplace” policy can be added as an addendum to the “Anti Workplace Violence Policy”, but not all states will allow an outright ban on employees or customers bringing weapons into a facility. In some states, the employer must provide a “safe space” for the weapon(s) to be stored if the company policy does not allow them to be carried openly or discreetly. Other states have different regulations entirely, so remember to be cognizant of your state’s laws and regulatory agencies when it comes to weapons in the workplace before adding any rules or guidelines to your policies. While you’re in the Workforce area of your dashboard, enroll all of your staff into our free “Active Shooter” and “Workplace Violence” trainings by navigating to the “Settings” tab under “Employee Training” to manage the automatic training enrollments for your staff.
Other things to take under consideration are your Emergency Action Plan for both trainings and policies at each location. Some questions to think about:
- Do you have a supervisor or manager in charge of doing a headcount of employees in case of an evacuation?
- Do all employees know which supervisor(s) to check in with in case of an emergency or evacuation?
- Do you have emergency contact information for each employee?
- Do all employeeres know where the evacuation point is located?
- Are all emergency numbers listed on labor law posters and in an easily accessible area for all employees?
As we wait for OSHA to give specific guidance on these matters, the best practice is to always keep our staff ready for these types of incidents. As the saying goes, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and it could not be more accurate here. If you have questions about what your specific dealership should do to create or deploy trainings and policies for your employees, or would like us to help you create and manage your own processes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to your Client Success Manager.
As always, if new regulations or guidance are issued regarding workplace violence we will be sure to update our software and keep dealers abreast of any changes or updates.
Stay safe out there friends.
This article should be used as a compliance aid only and though its accuracy has been made a priority, it is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Each dealer should rely on their own expertise when using it.