Violence in the Workplace
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, failing to adequately prevent and cope with violent incidents in the workplace can lead to increased workers’ compensation costs, absenteeism, property damage and negative publicity, yet over 70 percent of U.S. workplaces do not have a formal policy or program addressing workplace violence.
The creation of a sound prevention plan is the most important and ultimately least costly portion of any group’s workplace violence program.
Identifying Potentially Violent Situations
There are often several red flags that can be detected before an employee commits an act of violence. Below are examples of suspicious behavior:
- Intimidating, harassing, bullying, belligerent or other inappropriate and aggressive behavior
- Conflicts with customers, co-workers or supervisors
- Making references to weapons or idle threats
- Desperate or suicidal statements
- Substance abuse
- Extreme change in normal behavior
Train those in supervisory roles not to overreact, but also not to ignore a situation.
There are several activities that might increase a worker’s risk for workplace assault, including the following:
- Exchange of money
- Delivery of passengers, goods or services
- Working with unstable or volatile clients or patients
- Working late at night or during early morning hours
- Working in high-crime areas
- Guarding valuable property or possessions
To protect your employees and mitigate the risk of workplace violence, evaluate the workplace and identify both physical and administrative adjustments that you can make to lessen your risk of a violent incident.
- Explore the use of cashless transactions.
- Ensure good lighting, both internally and externally.
- Place garbage areas, outdoor refrigeration areas and other storage facilities in a way that does not unnecessarily expose employees by forcing them to walk distances alone or in poorly lit areas.
- Institute policies and procedures that indicate a zero tolerance of workplace violence and provide direction for reporting and handling incidents.
- Establish a crisis response plan that describes procedures to follow in the event of an emergency.
- Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with trained counselors who are able to address workplace stress and violence issues.
Types of Workplace Violence
Workplace violence are classified into four types of situations:
- Criminal – the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees (shoplifting, robbery, trespassing).
- Customer or Client – the perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business.
- Co-worker – the perpetrator is a current or past employee, or is a contractor who works as a temporary employee of the business.
- Domestic Violence – the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with a victim (family member, boyfriend or girlfriend).
Responding to Violence
No amount of preventive action can guarantee there will never be an incident of violence at your workplace. It is essential that when a violent incident does occur, the response be timely and appropriate. After the incident, recognize that employees could be traumatized and provide appropriate counseling. While training is only one component of a successful comprehensive workplace violence prevention program, preventive adjustments by management are equally important.
Active Shooter in the Workplace Seminar
May 16, 2018 in Troy, MI
Click here to learn more about this event.