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Handguns in the Workplace: Arm Yourself with Knowledge


Handguns in the Workplace: Arm Yourself with Knowledge

Know your OSHA requirements and stay on top of changing state laws.

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In the past, employers had the right to ban employees from bringing guns onto company property, even in personal vehicles in company parking lots. But some states now dictate individual employees have the right under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution to carry firearms legally for their own personal protection, regardless of posted company policies.

The issue is that workplaces have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment so how do you do this and still respect the right of your employees to possess firearms? What can you do if the employee is licensed to carry under your state’s concealed handgun laws?

OSHA Requirements vs Employee Rights

You have legal obligations to provide all employees and visitors with a safe and secure environment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), mandates that employers provide a safe work environment for their employees. Preventing and dealing with violence in the workplace may be part of that duty. You have legal obligations to provide all employees and visitors with a safe and secure environment, but as state laws vary make sure you check the laws in your state before you do anything.

Some states allow guns in locked vehicles in parking lots. Some state laws allow an employer to bar firearms on its property if it posts certain notices or signs. Some state laws prohibit discrimination or retaliation against gun owners; some limit an employer’s ability to search employees’ vehicles on its property and some even require employers who violate the law to pay damages to aggrieved employees.

Have a Firearms Policy

The important take-away here is to develop a policy and then communicate it to everyone.

Be aware that this is an ever changing area. The best thing you can do is when developing your company policy is to be armed with knowledge. Know your state laws. Understand OSHA requirements. Decide if your policy covers only firearms or if you want to extend it to other weapons such as knives or box cutters. If you use these as workplace tools, perhaps you want to explicitly state where and when they are allowed, such as in the factory or on the dock, but not in any offices. You may also want to consider requiring firearms and ammunition be secured in separate areas.

The important take-away here is to develop a policy and then communicate it to everyone. And update it if your state laws should change. Then communicate those changes to everyone. There is no guaranteed way to prevent violence, but this will go a long way in helping to prevent it.