[Excerpt] On August 24, 2012, a fired clothing designer gunned down a former co-worker outside the Empire State Building in New York City. The violent act was the culmination of built up tension between two former co-workers. Their anger towards one another had already resulted in at least one physical confrontation at work that led to both men filing police reports against each other. This case is an extreme example of workplace violence; however, workplace violence takes many forms and occurs with great regularity. Nearly 2 million employees are victims of workplace violence annually.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (“OSH Act”) is not well-enforced and therefore fails to provide protection to employees subjected to workplace violence. This article explores what can be done to better protect workers at the state level. Part I of this article reviews the phenomenon of workplace violence. Part II discusses the lack of enforcement of the OSH Act as it relates to workplace violence. Part III of this article describes how some states choose to supplement the OSH Act with their own workplace violence laws. Finally, Part IV proposes that state legislatures should adopt a law in line with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) promulgated suggestions to provide legal protections for workers against workplace violence. Since Congress has yet to enact federal legislation that provides comprehensive workplace violence prevention, all states must enact legislation beyond the OSH Act to protect their workers.