Parte 2 Health Rischi al lavoro

Module 13: Safety and Health at Work

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Health Hazards At Work - Part 2

Workplace Violence and Bullying

According to OSHA, 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence every year. [16] OSHA

addresses some of the workers who are at increased risk for workplace violence:

1. Workers who exchange money with the public

2. Workers who deliver goods, passengers, or services

3. People who work alone or in small groups

4. Workers who work late at night or early in the morning

5. Workers who work in high-crime areas

It is up to the organization and human resources to implement policies to ensure the safety of workers and provide a safe working environment. OSHA provides tips to provide a safer workplace:
1. Establish a workplace violence prevention policy, with a zero tolerance policy.

2. Provide safety education.

3. Secure the workplace with cameras, extra lighting, and alarm systems.

4. Provide a drop safe to limit the amount of cash on hand.

5. Provide cell phones to workers.

6. Require employees to travel in groups using a “buddy system.”

Development of workplace policies surrounding these items is important. Ongoing training and development in these areas are key to the creation of a safe workplace. While outside influences may affect

employee safety, it is also important to be aware of the employee’s safety from other employees. There are

several indicators of previolence as noted by the Workplace Violence Research Institute: [17]

1. Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs

2. Unexplained increase in absenteeism

3. Noticeable decrease in attention to appearance and hygiene

4. Depression and withdrawal

5. Explosive outbursts of anger or rage without provocation

6. Threats or verbal abuse to coworkers and supervisors

7. Repeated comments that indicate suicidal tendencies

8. Frequent, vague physical complaints

9. Noticeably unstable emotional responses

10. Behavior indicative of paranoia

11. Preoccupation with previous incidents of violence

12. Increased mood swings

13. Has a plan to “solve all problems”

14. Resistance and overreaction to changes in procedures

15. Increase of unsolicited comments about firearms and other dangerous weapons

16. Repeated violations of company policies

17. Escalation of domestic problems

A video on workplace violence training.

Please view this video at

Anyone exhibiting one or more of these preincident indicators should get the attention of HRM. The HR professional should take appropriate action such as discussing the problem with the employee and offering counseling.
Workplace bullying is defined as a tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent or repeated

aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a coworker or subordinate. The Workplace Bullying Institute found that 35 percent of workers have reported being bullied at work. This number is worth considering, given that workplace bullying reduces productivity with missed work days and turnover. The Workplace

Bullying Institute found that litigation and settlement of bullying lawsuits can cost organizations

$100,000 to millions of dollars, in addition to the bad publicity that may be created. Examples of workplace bullying include the following:
1. Unwarranted or invalid criticism

2. Blame without factual information

3. Being treated differently than the rest of your work group

4. Humiliation

5. Unrealistic work deadlines

6. Spreading rumors

7. Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work

In an Indiana Supreme court case, a hospital employee who was repeatedly bullied by a surgeon sued for emotional distress and won. This ruling drew national attention because it was an acknowledgment by the
courts of the existence of workplace bullying as a phenomenon. [18] Prevention of workplace bullying

means creating a culture in which employees are comfortable speaking with HR professionals and managers (assuming they are not the ones bullying) about these types of situations. Similar to traditional bullying, cyberbullying is defined as use of the Internet or technology used to send text that is intended to hurt or embarrass another person. Examples include using Facebook to post negative comments or
setting up a fake e-mail account to send out fake e-mails from that person. Comments or blogs and posts that show the victim in a bad light are other examples of cyberbullying. Similar to workplace bullying, cyberbullying is about power and control in workplace relationships. Elizabeth Carll’s research on cyberbullying shows that people who experience this type of harassment are more likely to experience heightened anxiety, fear, shock, and helplessness, which can result in lost productivity at work and
retention issues, [19] a major concern for the HR professional. The US Justice Department shows that some
850,000 adults have been targets of online harassment. [20] Many states, including New York, Missouri, Rhode Island, and Maryland, have passed laws against digital harassment as far back as 2007. [21] In a

recent cyberbullying case, a US Court of Appeals upheld a school’s discipline of a student for engaging in

off-campus cyberbullying of another student. [22]In the case, the victim said a MySpace profile was created

that included inappropriate pictures of her, and the page’s creator invited other people to join. The

student who created the page sued the school after she was disciplined for it, saying it violated her right to

free speech, but courts found that students do not have the right to cyberbully other students. While it seems that cyberbullying is for young people, as mentioned earlier, 35 percent of American workers feel they have been bullied. Bullying should be identified immediately and handled, as it affects workplace productivity, customer satisfaction, and eventually, profits.
Employee Privacy

In today’s world of identity theft, it is important that HR professionals work to achieve maximum security and privacy for employees. When private information is exposed, it can be costly. For example, in March of 2011, the Texas Comptroller’s office inadvertently disclosed on a public website the names, addresses,
and social security numbers of 3.5 million state workers. [23] The state has already spent $1.8 million to

remedy this problem by sending letters to affected parties and hiring technology consultants to review office procedures. While keeping employee information private is the responsibility of all management in an organization, ensuring privacy remains the job of the HR professional.
Some of the things to combat employee identity theft include the following:

1. Conduct background and criminal checks on employees who will have access to sensitive data.

2. Restrict access to areas where data is stored, including computers.

3. Provide training to staff who will have access to private employee information.

4. Keep information in locked files or in password-protected files.

5. Use numbers other than social security numbers to identify employees.

Another privacy issue that comes up often is the monitoring of employee activities on devices that are provided to them by the organization. Case law, for the most part, has decided that employees do not have privacy rights if they are using the organization’s equipment, with a few exceptions. As a result, more than half of all companies engage in some kind of monitoring. According to an American Management
Association [24]survey, 73 percent of employers monitor e-mail messages and 66 percent monitor web

surfing. If your organization finds it necessary to implement monitoring policies, ensuring the following is important to employee buy-in of the monitoring:
1. Develop a policy for monitoring.

2. Communicate what will be monitored.

3. Provide business reasons for why e-mail and Internet must be monitored.

Working with your IT department to implement standards and protect employee data kept on computers is a must in today’s connected world. Communication of a privacy policy is an important step as well. Agrium, a Canadian-based supplier of agricultural products in North America, states its employee privacy
policy on its website and shares with employees the tactics used to prevent security breaches. [25]

At Agrium we are committed to maintaining the accuracy, confidentiality, and security of your personal information. This Privacy Policy describes the personal information that Agrium collects from or about you, and how we use and to whom we disclose that information.
Since the 9/11 attacks, terrorism and its effect on the workplace are in the forefront of the HR professional’s mind. Planning for evacuations is the job of everyone in an organization, but HR should initiate this discussion. OSHA provides free assistance in implementing plans and procedures in case of a terror attack. OSHA also provides a fill-in-the-blank system ( to help organizations write a

comprehensive report for evacuations and terrorist attacks.
Promoting a Culture of Safety and Health

Employee health and safety is a must in today’s high-stress work environments. Although some may see employee health as something that shouldn’t concern HR, the increasing cost of health benefits makes it in the best interest of the company to hire and maintain healthy employees. In fact, during the recession of the late 2000s, when cutbacks were common, 50 percent of all workplaces increased or planned to
increase investments in wellness and health at their organization. [26]

Cordis (A Johnson & Johnson Company) Environmental, Health, and Safety Policy

Cordis Corporation is committed to global Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) performance and

leadership with respect to its associates, customers, suppliers, contractors, visitors, and communities. To

fulfill this commitment, Cordis Corporation conducts its business emphasizing regulatory compliance and


We strive for:

• Comprehensive risk management

• Pollution prevention

• Healthy lifestyle culture

• Continuous improvement and sustainability

• Engaging partnerships

• Possession of outstanding EHS capabilities and skill sets

We affirm that EHS is:

• A core business value and a key indicator of organizational excellence

• Considered in every task we perform and in every decision we make

We believe that:

• All incidents and injuries are preventable

• Process Excellence is the driver for continuous improvement and sustainable results in all aspects of EHS

• Every associate is responsible and accountable for complying with all aspects of EHS, creating a safe and

healthy work environment while leaving the smallest environmental footprint

A safe culture doesn’t happen by requiring training sessions every year; it occurs by creating an environment in which people can recognize hazards and have the authority and ability to fix them. Instead of safety being a management focus only, every employee should take interest by being alert to the safety issues that can exist. If an employee is unable to handle the situation on his or her own, the manager should then take suggestions from employees seriously; making the change and then communicating the change to the employee can be an important component of a safe and healthy workplace.
A culture that promotes safety is one that never puts cost or production numbers ahead of safety. You do

not want to create a culture in which health and safety priorities compete with production speedup, which can lead to a dangerous situation.
Another option to ensure health and safety is to implement anemployee assistance program (EAP). This benefit is intended to help employees with personal problems that could affect their performance at work. The EAP usually includes covered counseling and referral services. This type of program can assist employees with drug or alcohol addictions, emotional issues such as depression, stress management, or other personal issues. Sometimes these programs are outsourced to organizations that can provide in- house training and referral services to employees. For example, REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.), based in Seattle, has a comprehensive EAP for its employees in both retail stores and corporate offices.

Possible techniques you can implement to have a safe and healthy work environment include the following:
1. Know OSHA and other safety laws.

2. Provide training to employees on OSHA and safety laws.

3. Have a written policy for how violations will be handled.

4. Commit the resources (time and money) necessary to ensure a healthy work environment.

5. Involve employees in safety and health discussions, as they may have good ideas as to how the organization can improve.
6. Make safety part of an employee’s job description; in other words, hold employees accountable for always

practicing safety at work.
7. Understand how the health (or lack of health) of your employees contributes to or takes away from the bottom line and implement policies and programs to assist in this effort.

• Stress is a major concern for organizations, since it can decrease productivity in the workplace.

There are several types of stress.

• Eustress is a positive type of stress that can cause people to work harder toward a goal. Distress, on the other hand, is a type of negative stress.
• Acute stress occurs in short bursts, such as when finishing a project, while chronic stress tends to

persist for long periods of time.

• Hyperstress is stress that is unrelieved for long periods of time and can often result in employee burnout. Hypostress is the lack of eustress in one’s life, which can be as damaging as other types of stress, since stress is sometimes what pushes people harder.
• HR professionals can encourage employees to take vacation time, offer flextime, and encourage employees to take weekends off to help reduce stress.
• Cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) affects the hands, fingers, arms, or shoulders as a result of continuous repetitive motions. Carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a type of CTD that affects the hand and wrist. People with these disorders often work in a factory or at a desk where they are doing repetitive motions constantly, such as typing or cashiering.

• OSHA has voluntary guidelines for reducing CTD in the workplace. HR can assist by ensuring employees are provided with proper equipment and training.
• Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or environmental illness (EI) is extreme sensitivity to chemicals found in products such as hairsprays or lotions. Some individuals are extremely sensitive to other types of chemicals, such as those used in the manufacturing of carpets.
• MCS can be considered a disability if it limits one or more life activities. In this case, reasonable accommodations must be made, such as implementing fragrance-free zones as part of a workplace dress code.
• OSHA has specific guidelines on how to handle chemicals, but other chemicals, such as those from secondhand smoke, are an important consideration in workplace safety. Twenty-six states, for example, have implemented no-smoking policies to help protect the health of workers.
• Workplace violence affects 2 million Americans every year. A number of groups, such as those who deliver goods, people, or services, are at greatest risk. However, workplace violence can occur internally, which is why we must be aware of the warning signs.
• Workplace bullying is when a person is aggressive and unreasonable in his or her behavior toward another individual. Cyberbullying is similar, except technology is used to humiliate and intimidate the employee.
• Keeping employee information private is the job of HR and IT. In addition, some organizations may engage in web or e-mail monitoring to ensure employees are on task. Specific policies should be developed and communicated to let employees know how they may be monitored.
• Some organizations have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that can provide assistance, counseling, and the like in case of personal problems or drug or alcohol abuse.
• To maintain a healthful working environment, know OSHA policies and make sure people are trained on the policies. Also ensure that specific policies on all areas of health and safety are
communicated and employees are trained in those areas where necessary.

1. Visit and create your own evacuation plan using the tool on the OSHA website. (Note: web addresses sometimes change, so you may have to search further for the tool.) Bring your plan to class to share.

2. Research examples of workplace bullying, write two paragraphs about two examples, and share

your findings with the class.

[1] “Workplace Violence” (OSHA Fact Sheet), Occupational Safety and Health Administration, accessed April 25,


[2] Jurg Mattman, “Pre-Incident Indicators,” Workplace Violence Research Institute, June 2010, accessed April 27,


[3] Karen Klein, “Employers Can’t Ignore Workplace Bullies,” Bloomberg Businessweek, May 7, 2008, accessed

August 20, 2011,

[4] Madeleine White, “Are Cyber Bullies Worse for Victims than Real Bullies?” Globe and Mail, August 8, 2011,

accessed August 20, 2011,


[5] Madeleine White, “Are Cyber Bullies Worse for Victims than Real Bullies?” Globe and Mail, August 8, 2011,

accessed August 20, 2011,


[6] National Conference of State Legislatures, “State Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment, and Cyberbullying Laws,”

January 26, 2011, accessed August 20, 2011,

[7] Daniel Solove, “Off Campus Cyberbullying and the First Amendment,” Huffington Post, July 28, 2011, accessed

August 20, 2011,

[8] Patricia Hart, “Attorneys Seek to Question Texas Comptroller Over Exposed Info,”Houston Chronicle, April 26,

2011, accessed April 27, 2011,

[9] “Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance Survey,” American Management Association, 2007, accessed April 27,


[10] “Employee Privacy Policy,” Agrium Inc., accessed August 21,


[11] Donald Sears, "Gym Memberships and Wellness Programs Remain Standard Employee Benefits," The Ladders

Career Line,July 21, 2009, accessed April 27, 2011, http:(/ and-wellness-programs-remain-standard-empi oyee-benefits/.

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