Preventing Workplace Violence

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplace violence can be the threat of physical violence. It is also harassment or any behavior that intimidates another person while at work. The threats can be verbal or physical. According to OSHA many cases go unreported yet almost two million workers do report that they have been victims of violence in the workplace.

There are four categories of workplace violence.

  1. Violence against others who also work there
  2. Violence by criminals with  no connections who enter the place to rob it
  3. Violence aimed at employees by customers 
  4. Violence by an outside person who has a personal relationship with someone who works there

Employers have a responsibility for workplace violence prevention and protecting employees from violence. An employee has the right to expect an environment free from threats and violence. There are three costs that company’s face when workplace violence happens. These are management time and expenses. Losing productivity and having to replace staff. When there is no policy in place for workplace violence management has to spend more time trying to get it taken care of. Productivity slows down, employees quit and new ones are hired. If workplace violence continues the new employees will also tend to quit.

There are things that employers can do to prevent workplace violence. Companies should have a formal workplace violence prevention policy. They should also make sure that employees know about the policy. Managers should train employees to know the signs of workplace violence. The employees should also be trained in how to respond should the violence occur.

New employees should be trained when they are first hired. Then regular training should be provided for all employees. A climate of trust and respect should be fostered among coworkers and between employees and upper management. Steps should be taken to reduce negativity and to ease stress in the office. When hiring an extra effort needs to be taken to identify those individuals prone to violence while still complying with anti-discrimination laws.

Employers need to have procedures in place for employees to be able to report threats. When there are disputes among employees a program to resolve these disputes should be in place. Employees should feel comfortable reporting disputes and not worry about losing their job. Procedures should be in place for employees to report possible violence and not be afraid to do so.

A manager should document any threats that occur and what the response was for taking care of them. This also includes terminating the employee or employees. When terminating an employee who has caused conflict caution should be taken. Involve security for the violent employee. Do not fire a violent employee by yourself. Having witnesses tend to make violent employees much less apt to become violent at that time.                              

Security systems should be put in place and tested regularly. Employees need to know not to hold open a secure access door for someone who does not have the credentials. Employees should know if a person with a restring order looks like and if this person is seen anywhere near the office, they should report this to security.

The most important thing to prevent workplace violence is training. Training when an employee is first hired and then regular training from then on. Managers need to have specialized training in workplace violence so that they can help keep their department safe. When an employee feels threatened their work performance suffers. They will end up leaving the company. When an employee feels safe, they are productive workers. It is up to employers to offer this safe workplace.

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