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Workplace injuries: YouTube shooting underscores violence threat

According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, employers in California must provide safe work environments that are free of known hazards. They are responsible for the health and safety of employees and they must prevent workplace injuries. However, the prevalence of violence in workplaces is raising concern because it is becoming exceedingly challenging to protect employees from harm. This was underscored by the recent shooting at the YouTube offices in Northern California.

Cal/OSHA started working on plans to regulate workplace violence even before this incident. The agency was working on guidelines to protect workers not only from internal violent incidents but also from violent attacks by outsiders. On April 3, a YouTube video producer entered the building and randomly fired her weapon. After injuring three employees, she turned the gun on herself and committed suicide.

Safety authorities say the process to get new regulations finalized is complicated and time-consuming. While initial plans arose from the violence to which health care workers are exposed, it has become clear that the same threat exists across all industries. The plans include active shooting training and self-defense. However, they say the primary rule when confronted by a gun-wielding intruder is to run and hide, with confrontation as a last resort.

It is time for all workers in California to accept the fact that they are at risk of being victims of violence regardless of the industry in which they are employed. Fortunately, as with any other workplace injuries, victims of violence will typically be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If injuries were caused by an outsider, there might be grounds to pursue additional compensation through the civil justice system.

Source: bna.com, "YouTube Shooting Puts Spotlight on Workplace Violence in California", David McAfee, April 5, 2018

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