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June 25, 2015

Workplace Violence Prevention Requirements Will Soon Extend to Many New York Nonprofit Employers

In 2006, in response to increased concern for acts of violence committed at the workplace, New York State enacted the Workplace Violence Prevention Act, which required most public employers to develop and implement programs to prevent such violence. Last week, the New York legislature passed a bill extending the reach of that Act to all nonprofit corporations incorporated in New York that receive at least fifty percent (50%) of their funding from government sources, whether federal, state, or local.

New York Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) provides resources to assist employers in complying with their obligations under the Act, which will soon apply to primarily publicly-funded New York nonprofit employers. In short, covered employers must:

  1. Develop and post a written policy statement about the employer's workplace violence prevention program goals and objectives and provide for full employee participation.
  2. Conduct a risk evaluation by examining any history of workplace violence and assessing administrative or environmental risk factors.
  3. Develop a workplace violence prevention program that explains the risks that were identified in the evaluation, the methods the employer will use to address those risks, the various controls of the program, a system for reporting any incidents of workplace violence, a lesson plan for employee program training, and a plan for program review and update on at least an annual basis. If there are 20 or more full-time permanent employees, this program must be described in writing.
  4. Provide training and information for employees regarding the workplace violence prevention program, including any risk factors identified and what employees can do to protect themselves.
  5. Establish and maintain a system for documenting workplace violence incidents as they occur.

The amendment to the Act will take effect one year after the governor signs the bill, which he is expected to do in the near future. Affected employers should, therefore, begin considering how they will comply with these requirements. Regardless of the application of the Act, however, all employers should consider undertaking formal measures to minimize the risks of workplace violence and provide a safe working environment for their employees.

If you have any questions about the content of this alert, or wish to begin implementing your own workplace violence prevention program, please contact the Barclay Damon attorney with whom you normally work or any attorney in our Labor & Employment Practice Area.


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