Every employer has a “legal obligation” to provide a safe workplace for its employees. While no particular process can guarantee a safe workplace, conducting pre-employment background checks on all applicants is a sure way to minimize the problems associated with violence, theft, or substance abuse. It will also help protect against potential negligent hiring lawsuits.

Background checks create a safer workplace by helping to ensure the applicants that are hired are who they claim to be and are more likely to fit the characteristics the employer seeks. Failure to conduct background checks on applicants can present an unnecessary threat to employees, customers, vendors, and property. The safety and wellness of current employees are compromised when the employer has no knowledge of an applicant’s background.

Co-employees and third parties who may be harmed by a violent employee may sue the employer for negligent hiring or retention, and for similar legal claims involving personal injury. Employers are required to maintain a safe workplace under the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which is another potential source of liability.

Employers in the healthcare business are subject to OSHA’s guidelines concerning prevention and response to workplace violence threats are at special risk in this regard.