Employee Safety at Dept of Defense ‘Jeopardized’ by Lack of Workplace Violence Protocols

By Peter DePaolis

There have not been workplace safety protocols issued by the Defense Department that apply to all its employees, according to a new report, leaving workers still vulnerable to violence despite reviews to address the issue in light of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

After that shooting that left 13 dead and 43 wounded at the Texas base, the Pentagon commissioned a review board for the purpose of better protecting its workforce. That panel issued 79 recommendations in 2010. Following that, a review was conducted on how to predict violent behavior by the Defense Science Board.

When implementing the recommendations from the findings, Defense’s inspector general found different levels of the department followed different suggestions, and the new policies were not enacted consistently across employee type.

While the office of the under secretary for personnel and readiness has issued guidance to increase training for civilian employees, that doesn’t apply to military personnel. The under secretary’s office told the IG that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is sufficient to address poor behavior in the workplace among military staff. The under secretary drafted more comprehensive guidance in April 2014, but its release was delayed by another shooting at Fort Hood. The guidance had still not been issued at the time of the IG’s investigation.

Even if that guidance were implemented, the IG said, it includes guidelines designed to protect federal employees in non-military positions, again leaving military personnel without sufficient protocols.

As of this report, 73 of the 79 recommendations issued by the Fort Hood review board have been completed. The IG still found no department-wide policy, leading the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to address each component’s workplace safety policies individually, instead of through a comprehensive approach.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.Virginia Work Injury Attorneys

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.