In response to a state law, Herkimer County has implemented a workplace violence prevention program.

In response to a state law, Herkimer County has implemented a workplace violence prevention program.

On June 7, 2006, then-Gov. George Pataki signed into law a bill requiring public employers to develop and implement programs to prevent workplace violence. The law took effect on March 4, and last month the county Legislature approved its own program.

The law requires public employers to perform a workplace evaluation of each worksite. The evaluation is intended to identify factors which may place the workforce at risk to occupational assaults or homicides. The results of the evaluation and the risk factors found should be shared with employees and reviewed annually. Employers who have 20 or more full time employees must develop a written workplace violence prevention program.

County Personnel Officer Steven Billings has been appointed program administrator. He is responsible for ensuring that policies and procedures involving workplace violence evaluation and prevention are clearly communicated and understood by all employees.

Billings says a couple steps will be taken to ensure that employees do not engage in verbal threats or physical actions that would create a security hazard for others in the workplace.

Those include informing employees, supervisors and department heads of the provisions of the program for workplace security, and holding annual employee training which would include measures employees can take to protect themselves, procedures the county has implemented to protect employees, and emergency procedures.

   

“Nothing is more important to the county than the safety and security of our employees,” Billings said. “Threats, threatening behavior, or acts of violence against employees, visitors, guests, or other individuals by anyone on Herkimer County property will not be tolerated.”

Billings said anyone who makes threats, exhibits threatening behavior, or engages in violent acts will be removed from the premises as quickly as safety permits and will remain off county property pending the outcome of an investigation.

The policy also states that all Herkimer County personnel are responsible for notifying Billings of any threats they have witnessed, received, or have been told that another person has witnessed or received. Personnel should also report behavior they regard as threatening or violent if that behavior is job-related or might be carried out on a county-controlled site.

   

In addition, any employee who applies for or obtains a protective or restraining order that lists county locations as protected areas must provide a copy of the petition and declarations used to seek the order and a copy of any temporary or permanent protective or restraining order that was granted.

The county has already conducted an initial evaluation of the workplace and determined that Herkimer County has a very safe work environment for all employees.

“The county has taken many steps to ensure that its employees work in a safe environment,” Billings said.

   

Employees are required to carry county identification with them at all times and can only enter the Mary Street and North Washington Street main entrances by showing identification. Side and rear entrances of the buildings can only be accessed by county employees that have a county issued swipe access card. County buildings that are not on the main county campus have access to the county 911 system for emergencies.

A Herkimer County Workplace Incident Report is available to report any workplace violence that takes place.