New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently launched Transit Watch, a program to encourage riders who witness attacks on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees to help police track down the offenders. “Thousands of men and women work on the front lines of the MTA system every day to make sure millions of people can get to work safely,” Governor Cuomo said. “We need to ensure they stay safe as well.”
According to the Governor, 48 MTA employees were assaulted in the first 5 months of 2012, compared to 40 during the same period last year. Transit Watch will offer rewards of up to $2,000 to witnesses for information leading to an arrest and indictment. The program is funded by MTA.
“This is a big win for transit workers, who face physical assaults, verbal abuse and threats every day on the job, and who have long felt that transit assaults are given a low priority,” said John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100.
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million American workers report incidents of workplace violence each year. The following factors make workers particularly vulnerable:
- exchanging money with the public
- working with volatile, unstable people
- working alone or in isolated areas
- working where alcohol is served
- working late at night or in areas with high crime rates
OSHA notes that a clearly communicated, zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence can be a powerful deterrent. OSHA also suggests that employers consider workplace violence prevention programs. For specific suggestions, visit www.osha.gov.