OSHA Uses General Duty Clause in Workplace Violence Case

The agency's Dallas Area Office investigated after an employee working the checkout counter at TMT Inc.’s Garland, Texas, Whip In convenience store died following an assault in May 2012.

OSHA announced Nov. 19 that it has filed four serious safety violations against Dallas-based TMT Inc. in connection with a May 2012 aggravated robbery that resulted in the death of an employee at the company's Whip In convenience store in Garland, Texas. OSHA's Dallas Area Office opened an investigation after the employee was assaulted during a robbery while working the checkout counter and later died from second- and third-degree burns. Workers at three other stores in Dallas and Mesquite, a Dallas suburb, were exposed to the same or similar workplace violence hazards, according to the agency.

"Handling money, working alone, and standing behind open counters leaves employees vulnerable to violent crimes," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "If the employer had conducted an analysis to identify risk for violence, implemented appropriate control measures, and provided training to ensure awareness of potential violence, it is possible that this tragic loss of life could have been avoided."

Each store was cited for allegedly violating OSHA's general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. The proposed penalties total $19,600.

Two experts on workplace violence from Minneapolis, Dr. Kristine Kienlen and attorney Stacy L. Bettison, will present a free, one-hour OH&S webinar Dec. 6 explaining how to assess existing workplace violence hazards, how to create a strong workplace violence prevention policy, how to train management teams, and more. Dr. Kienlen is president of Minnesota Threat Assessment & Forensic Professionals, Inc., and Bettison is president of Bettison Consulting LLC. To register for their free "Every Employer is Vulnerable: Assessing and Preventing Workplace Violence" webinar, visit http://ohsonline.com/webcasts/2012/11/every-employer-is-vulnerable-assessing-and-preventing-workplace-violence.aspx?admgarea=Webinar&tc=page0.

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