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  • Dangerous Workplace

    My wife works at the front desk at a medical clinic that serves people with no insurance. Some of their patrons are mentally unstable and prone to violent outbreaks. The clinic has no security on site. Just last month one of my wife's co-workers was bitten. Does the clinic have an obligation to provide security? Other than finding a new job, does my wife have any recourse? Thanks.

  • #2
    Does the clinic have an obligation to provide security?
    Yes and No. If you mean are they required to have a uniformed guard standing around at all times waiting for a violent outburst, maybe, maybe not.
    There is no definitive OSHA or CalOSHA reg. that would state that requirement.

    However, this could fall under the "General Duty" clause which states;

    (1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;

    This past incident, was it a one off event or is there a history of these type of incidents occuring?

    If this is something that happens repeatedly the employer would need to take action to limit the employee exposure to the potential. That may mean a guard, reconfiguring the workspace with barriers, extra staff on hand etc.
    "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'' - Sir William of Ockham, a.k.a. Ockham's Razor

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    • #3
      While physical violence is rare, threats to the front desk staff are common. Maybe an average of once or twice a week. Where would I find the general duty clause that you mentioned? And other than making their fears regarding their safety known, what should these employees do? Thanks for your help, I'm not sure where else I could go for this kind of advice.

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      • #4
        Section 5

        http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owad...HACT&p_id=2743



        Has your wife or any of the other employees expressed the concern for their safety to the employer?

        If not they need to start there. If so what were they told?
        "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'' - Sir William of Ockham, a.k.a. Ockham's Razor

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        • #5
          I'll have to ask my wife again, but I believe she asked if they could get a security guard hired for the building. She was told that because they are a non-profit, there is not enough money in the budget.

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          • #6
            A guard isn't the only option. They really need to give the employer a chance to rectify the situation once they make their concerns known.

            They should sit down with whoever is in charge, calmly and politely express their concerns and try to come up with a solution. Then if the employer fails to act they may want to seek outside help.

            With all that said, verbal threats, in and of themselves aren't what OSHA would consider a dangerous situation, especially given the enviornment.
            "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'' - Sir William of Ockham, a.k.a. Ockham's Razor

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