Administrative Regulation 19

Matthew H. Hymel, County Administrator

Policy on Workplace Security and Violence in the Workplace

Effective Date: August 6, 1996

This regulation is issued pursuant to Chapters 2.08 and 2.84 of the Marin County Code and has been approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Statement of Policy

It is the policy of Marin County to provide for the safety and security of County employees at all county work locations, as well as providing a safe environment for citizens and visitors to County facilities. This policy affirms the right of all County employees to a safe work environment free from intimidation, harassment, violence, and threats of violence, whether from co-workers, former employees, or the public. Acts and/or threats of intimidation, harassment, or violence by County employees, former employees, or the public will not be tolerated in the workplace, or in connection with any County business. Any such acts or threats will constitute grounds for immediate investigation, and, if made by County employees, may also constitute grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination. This policy covers intimidation, personal harassment, violence, or threats of violence, made directly or indirectly, including, but not limited to, words, gestures, correspondence, symbols or physical acts which threaten the security and safety of County employees. This policy also covers such acts which inhibit County employees from conducting business or providing services in an environment of safety and security. This includes such acts made on County premises, at County work operations or County functions.

General Departmental Requirements

General Definitions

This policy incorporates the following general definitions as a means of providing clarity and common understanding in its statements of policies and procedures:

At Risk - A reasonable expectation that an employee may be the subject of intimidation, harassment, violence, or threat of violence in the course of his/her normal job routine.

Harassment - A knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, torments, terrorizes, or intimidates the person and that serves no legitimate purpose. This course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the person.

Intimidation - Threatening behavior which may induce fear for physical safety in another person.

Threat - The expression of intent to inflict physical harm and/or an action that a reasonable person would perceive as a threat to physical safety or property.

Workplace Violence Definitions

This policy incorporates the following definitions pertaining to workplace violence as a means of providing clarity and common understanding in its statements of policies and procedures:

Types of Violence in the Workplace - Incidents of violence in the workplace can be divided into three major types in accordance with OSHA guidelines. It is important to remain aware that a particular occupation may be subject to more than one type.

  • Type I - The agent has no legitimate relationship to the workplace and usually enters the workplace to commit a robbery or other criminal act.
  • Type II - The agent is either the recipient or the object of a service provided by the affected workplace or the victim; e.g. the assailant is a current or former client, patient, customer, passenger, criminal suspect or prisoner.
  • Type III - The agent has an employment related involvement with the workplace. Usually this involves an assault by a current or former employee, supervisor, or manager; by a current or former spouse or lover; or by some other person who has a dispute with an employee .

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Workplace Violence

Violence which any person inflicts, threatens to inflict, or makes reference to inflicting on others at the place of work, which may result in serious bodily harm, injury, or death, or in damage to property. The person performing such behavior may be a co-worker or a member of the public (e.g., a client). Examples of such behavior include but are not limited to:

  • Comments that a person in the work area is better off injured or dead.
  • Clear verbal threats of physical harm made to a person in the work area.
  • Gestures directed at a person in the work area which are a threat to the person or to property in the area.
  • Obscene gestures or motions intended to harass or intimidate a person in the work area.
  • Displaying a weapon when not part of one's work duties.
  • Stalking another person or otherwise focusing undue attention whether "romantic" or angry.

Responsibilities

All Department Heads, managers, and supervisors are responsible for instituting the elements of this policy as part of the County Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) through the implementation of the County Workplace Security and Workplace Violence Prevention Program (herein: the Program) and for maintaining the Program in their respective areas of responsibility. Department Heads, managers and supervisors are also responsible for ensuring that all policies, procedures, and preventive measures developed in accordance with the requirements of this policy are clearly communicated and understood by all employees. The County is aware that there are workplace security risks inherent in the nature of certain job positions (including, but not limited to: law enforcement, correctional staff, etc.). In accordance with the requirements of the Injury and Illness Prevention Standard [8 CCR § 3203], persons will be apprised of the potential hazards of such positions if they are not already aware of same, and the County will verify training for handling such hazards. All employees are responsible for following the policies and procedures of the Program and for assisting in maintaining a safe and secure work environment. Employees are thus responsible for conducting themselves in the workplace without intimidating, harassing, threatening, or violent behavior which may cause harm or fear for physical well-being to employees, the public, or to property. Employees are also responsible for reporting immediately to their supervisor all acts or threatened acts of intimidation, harassment, or violence. In cases where there is imminent potential for violence, the County Sheriff or appropriate local law enforcement agency (for County facilities not located in the Civic Center) should be notified immediately.

Incident or Employee Complaint Investigations.

Department Heads are responsible to ensure that all employee complaints are heard, evaluated in accordance with this policy, and responded to appropriately. Regardless of the complaint, an investigation must be conducted. In incidents involving criminal actions, the County Sheriff or the appropriate local law enforcement agency will be notified to take charge of the initial investigation. In all other cases the initial investigation should be conducted at the Department level to discern appropriate mitigating actions. Results of the investigation are to be reported to the Safety Analyst. The Analyst will review the investigation and hazard resolution documents and report evaluation results to the County Administrator, the Director of Human Resources, and the County Counsel or their designees. These individuals, in conference with the Analyst, will confirm the resolution of any identified hazards. If the problem cannot be resolved at the Department level, the Safety Analyst will further investigate the incident (or employee report of hazard) and recommend preventive or mitigating actions as appropriate. This report will also be forwarded to the above three individuals for evaluation. The supervisor or other person designated by the Department Head to conduct the investigation must keep proper notes and records. In accordance with regulatory requirements, employees may make complaints anonymously. The following methods, as applicable, will be used whenever investigating a complaint, or an incident which has occurred:

  • Reviewing of all previous incidents.
  • Visiting the scene of an incident as soon as possible.
  • Interviewing threatened/or injured workers and witnesses.
  • Examining the workplace for security risk factors, not previously identified, associated with the incident, including any previous reports of inappropriate behavior by the perpetrator.
  • Determining the cause of the incident.
  • Taking corrective action to prevent the incident from recurring.
  • Recording the findings and corrective actions taken.