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Michigan Workplace Violence Prevention

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Workplace violence is a serious safety and health issue. While no federal law currently addresses violence in the workplace, several laws impose a duty on employers to maintain a safe workplace.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) imposes a general duty on all employers to provide employees with a workplace that is free from hazards. Additionally, federal civil rights laws require employers to keep the workplace free from threats of violence and federal workers compensation laws make employers responsible for injuries sustained within the scope of performing job-related duties.

In addition to these federal requirements, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) places a duty on employers to provide employees with a safe workplace.

Workplace Violence Described

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as “violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes four different types of workplace violence:

  • Criminal Acts: Violent acts by people, employees or former employees who enter the workplace with the intention to commit a crime;
  • Customers/Clients/Patients: Violent acts directed at employees by individuals who enter the employer’s premises to obtain some type of service;
  • Co-Worker Conflict: Violence directed at co-workers, supervisors, or managers by a current or former employee, supervisor, or manager; and
  • Personal: Violence in the workplace by someone who does not work there, but who is known to, or has a personal relationship with, an employee.

Workplace violence is a particularly prevalent issue in health care and social service settings as well as late-night retail establishments.

Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Safe Workplace

MIOSHA makes employers primarily responsible for the safety and health of its employees. It requires employers to provide a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.
Michigan courts impose further obligations on employers to provide employees with a safe work environment by requiring employers to hire and train their employees properly. According to the Michigan courts, an employer does not meet its duty when the employer negligently hires, trains or supervises its employees.

In the event an employer does not adequately hire, train or supervise its employees, the employer may be sued for negligence if the employer knew or should have known the employee would subject a coworker, customer or third party to an unreasonable risk of harm.


Employers may not discharge or in any way discipline an employee because the employee exercised any right guaranteed by MIOSHA.

Michigan Conceal and Carry Law

A Michigan conceal and carry law grants Michigan residents and some residents of other states the right to carry concealed pistols in the state of Michigan. In order to legally carry a concealed pistol, individuals must have a license for their concealed pistol.

Employers may choose to prohibit anyone from carrying concealed pistols on business property or in the course of employment. However, employers may not prohibit an employee from obtaining a license to carry a concealed pistol or from carrying a concealed pistol outside of work. Any policy adopted regarding firearms should be clearly and explicitly stated in the employer’s workplace violence prevention policy.

Additionally, concealed pistols are prohibited on the following premises:

  • Schools or school property;
  • Public or private day care centers, child caring agencies or child placing agencies;
  • Sports arenas or stadiums;
  • Taverns where the primary source of income is the sale of alcohol consumed on the premises;
  • Any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other place of worship (unless the presiding official allows concealed weapons);
  • Entertainment facilities that the individual knows or should know has a seating capacity of 2,500 or more;
  • Hospitals;
  • Dormitories or classrooms of a community college, college or university; and
  • Casinos.

“Premises” does not include the parking areas of the places listed above.

Required Workplace Poster

Employers must post signs provided by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in a conspicuous place that inform employees of the protections provided by MIOSHA. A separate sign must be posted in each establishment. Additionally, employers must take steps to ensure that the signs are readable and not altered or defaced.

Approved posters can be found on LARA’s website in English and Spanish. Additional safety posters may also be found on LARA’s website.


Employers that fail to comply with MIOSHA will be subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

Civil Penalties

Any employer who receives a citation for a violation, including violations of MIOSHA’s posting requirements, will be fined up to $7,000 for each violation. Additionally, any employer who fails to correct a cited violation within the specified period will be fined up to $7,000 for each day during which the violation continues.

An employer who willfully or repeatedly violates MIOSHA will be fined between $5,000 and $70,000 for each violation.

Criminal Penalties

Any willful violation which results in the death of any employee constitutes a felony, punishable by:

  • A fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to one year or both, for the first violation; and
  • A fine of up to $20,000, imprisonment for up to three years or both, for a second and subsequent violations.

A person will be guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to six months or both for the following violations:

  • Knowingly making a false statement, representation or certification in any document filed or required to be maintained under MIOSHA; or
  • Failing to maintain or transmit any document as required.

Additionally, any person who gives advance notice of an investigation or inspection without appropriate authority is guilty of a misdemeanor and will be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to six months or both.

Workplace Violence Plan Implementation for Employers

Michigan law requires employers to keep employees free from harm in the workplace. Employers may be liable for incidents of workplace violence under both federal and state law for failure to provide employees with a safe workplace.
Employers can create a workplace violence plan to outline policies and processes that can help prevent workplace violence. If an employer elects to have a workplace violence plan, the plan will be most effective if it is tailored to the individual needs and circumstances of the employer. It should take into account the resources available to the employer to enact and maintain the program.
A workplace violence policy may include the following items:

  • A statement of the employer’s workplace violence policy and its relation to other policies the employer has enacted;
  • Standard practices to address workplace violence or threats of violence;
  • Designation and training of an incident response team;
  • Clearly stated disciplinary procedures designed to prevent violent behavior in the workplace;
  • Procedures for workplace violence that will handle all levels of violence;
  • Reference to sources outside of the workplace that employees may consult to deal with workplace violence; and
  • An effective training program to inform employees of the workplace violence policy.

More Information

For more information on workplace violence, see the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website, or the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ website.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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