Workplace violence is a nationwide problem affecting millions of workers each year. Workplace violence is any act or threat of violence that occurs at a work site. These incidents can include acts or threats of physical violence, intimidation, or harassment. Verbal abuse, physical assault, and homicide are all examples of workplace violence. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 18,960 employees within the private industry suffered from nonfatal workplace violence in 2016. Sadly, 500 employees were victims of workplace homicide in the same year. Reducing the problem begins with identifying risks to create an effective prevention plan.
Identifying Risk Factors
The complete costs of workplace violence are enormous. Whether physical violence or loss of life has occurred, the immediate effects of violence only begin the cycle that employees face after an incident. Workplace violence can cause lasting physical and psychological effects on all employees and lower the overall morale of a company. Avoidance of violence in the workplace is the responsibility of all employees, supervisors, and managers. It is vital for companies to create programs to educate all employees about the early warning signs of potentially violent situations. The US Department of Labor has established a guideline of warning signs that signal the potential for workplace violence.
The earliest warning signs of potential violence should be reported in an effort to prevent escalation. Tragedies like mass shootings are often the type of violence that is publicly portrayed. It is important for employees to understand all levels of violence that may occur. Some common forms of nonfatal workplace violence may include:
- Threats made in person or by phone or social media.
- Carrying or using a weapon.
- Verbal abuse.
- General aggressive behavior like hitting or kicking objects, breaking things, or screaming.
- Harassing or stalking someone.
Often, warning signs are observed in employees, customers, and others who may behave violently on a work site. These behaviors may include:
- Rude behavior toward fellow employees and supervisors.
- Frequent arguments with other workers or customers.
- Refusal to follow rules.
- Acts of revenge like stealing or property damage.
- A view of management as an enemy.
- Verbal wishes to harm other workers or managers.
While there is no perfect way to predict violence will occur, any combination of these behaviors may be a signal. Employees should be encouraged to report these actions to prevent further escalation of any type of violent situation.
Creating a Plan
It is important for employers to establish a workplace violence prevention program. Proper education will help employees understand the threat of violence and ways to avoid it. Taking these actions could prevent violence in your organization.
- Create a friendly work atmosphere. Encouraging workers to socialize can build friendships and morale. It is important for supervisors and managers to know the satisfaction level of each employee and create a positive workplace culture.
- Establish clear rules and penalties. Have regular meetings to educate and remind workers of these regulations. Always reinforce a zero-tolerance rule toward all forms of violence.
- Set up a safe and confidential procedure to handle complaints. Educate your employees on how to handle differences responsibly. Ensure that all employees feel safe when communicating about potential threats or violence.
- Promote awareness through education. Set up regular training sessions to make workers aware of their rights and the potential dangers around them. Create lines of communication during these sessions to show workers that silence is dangerous when the potential for violence is involved.
Violence is a tragic situation that can occur in any work environment. Education is the best way to help your employees stay safe. If you are interested in learning more about the prevention of workplace violence, contact us today for more information. Visit the Lorman Education Services website to learn about our training courses.