A Dangerous World - Preventing Workplace Violence

» Articles » Employment & Labor Articles » Article

October 20, 2017


A Dangerous World - Preventing Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is a common issue. For example, as recently as October 18, an employee at a Maryland granite company took a gun to work and shot five of his coworkers (three of whom died) before driving to Delaware and killing another person. The man concerned had a history of violence.

How can you avoid your office or workplace becoming the next headline? Workplace violence - defined as any act or threat of physical violence, intimidation or threatening and disruptive behavior is common. In 2014 there were 403 homicides in places of work and nearly 2 million workers report being victims each year. Many more cases go unreported.

Here are some tips:

Continue reading below

FREE Employment & Labor Training from Lorman

Lorman has over 35 years of professional training experience.
Join us for a special report and level up your Employment & Labor knowledge!

Employee Discipline and Termination
Presented by Crystal L. Norbeck

Learn More

1. Establish a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence, covering everyone who comes into contact with company personnel. Bullying often leads to violence - dealing with discourteous or verbally abusive employees or supervisors before it escalates to violence can be the strongest way to prevent incidents.

1. Identify the specific risks of your workplace. The highest risks are faced by delivery drivers, anyone who exchanges money with the public, healthcare professionals, public service workers and customer service agents. Obviously, these groups are exposed to violence from customers and the public as well as from coworkers. Risks are also increased late at night or for those working alone or in small groups.

3. Come up with a plan to reduce those risks. For example, consider sending two people rather than one on delivery at night, especially to higher-crime areas. There is no absolute, one size fits all security plan - any violence prevention plan needs to be tailored to the size of your company. Once the plan is in place, everyone should be trained in it - including you.

4. Improve company culture. Although not all workplace violence is a result of disgruntled employees - you can do your best to avoid having disgruntled employees in the first place. Make sure that you are not allowing or, worse, rewarding bullying and negative behavior. Ensure that managers and supervisors are properly trained. Reward sincere communication. Also, think about work-life balance. People are more likely to become abusive if under stress from long hours or from family issues.

5. Provide training on awareness. Work towards establishing tolerance and watch for interpersonal conflicts that can escalate.

6. Have a proper system for complaints about bullying or abuse - and ensure people are protected from retaliation. Doing nothing about a legitimate complaint gives the abuser free rein to continue. Make sure complaints are handled impartially and bear in mind resolving a problem may mean separating the people concerned. Also, don't be afraid to terminate an employee if necessary - but if you do, make sure to heighten security as fired employees have been known to come back with firearms (which is not the way you want to be proved right).

7. Put together an action plan for if a violent incident happens, and drill it occasionally (like fire drills). This is particularly important for public-facing businesses such as stores or banks. Educate employees on what to do if they find themselves facing an abusive customer or coworker who's behavior is starting to escalate towards violence. Consider whether you need to improve physical security (for example, installing panic buttons) in your workplace to protect from violence from customers or criminals.

8. If an incident does happen, then go over your prevention methods again. Not everything can be prevented, but analyzing any incidents can help you find holes in your system that might stop it from happening again. Make sure that the victim has access to counseling and involve the police if you feel it is appropriate. Investigate all incidents properly.

Workplace violence is something which should never be allowed to happen - everyone should be able to feel safe at work. However, it remains an issue that employers have to deal with in a fair and impartial way. One of the solutions is to provide good continuing education to supervisors and managers - contact Lorman Education Services for more information.

Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/

http://www.ehstoday.com/safety/nsc-2017-how-employers-sow-seeds-workplace-violence

http://www.prevention-violence.com/en/int-210.asp


The material appearing in this web site is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein is intended only as general information which may or may not reflect the most current developments. Although these materials may be prepared by professionals, they should not be used as a substitute for professional services. If legal or other professional advice is required, the services of a professional should be sought.

The opinions or viewpoints expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Lorman Education Services. All materials and content were prepared by persons and/or entities other than Lorman Education Services, and said other persons and/or entities are solely responsible for their content.

Any links to other web sites are not intended to be referrals or endorsements of these sites. The links provided are maintained by the respective organizations, and they are solely responsible for the content of their own sites.