How To Handle Workplace Violence And Protect Your Employees

Here’s a workplace safety statistic you maybe didn’t know: Homicide is one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.

Approximately two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year, and it’s become a growing concern for both employers and employees nationwide.

What qualifies as workplace violence?

Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers, which occurs at or outside of the workplace. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and, as we mentioned above, homicide.

How do you identify vulnerable employees?

Although workplace violence happens anywhere and to anyone, some workers and work environments are at an increased risk. They are workers who:

Exchange money with the public
Deliver passengers, goods or services
Work alone or in small groups
Work during late night or early morning hours
Work in high-crime areas
Have extensive contact with the public

This group includes health care and social service workers, community workers, letter carriers, retail workers and taxi drivers.

How do you protect the vulnerable employees from workplace violence?

The best protection to offer is a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence, either against or by your employees.

Also, every employee should understand that any violent behavior in the workplace is subject to investigation and the resulting consequences. It’s critical to establish a workplace violence prevention program/policy and document it in an existing employee handbook.

Additional ways to protect your employees from workplace violence:

Provide safety education so they know what conduct is not acceptable and what to do if subjected to workplace violence
Secure the workplace with video surveillance, extra lighting and alarm systems
Provide drop safes to limit the amount of cash on hand and keep a minimal amount of cash in registers during evenings and late-night hours
Equip field staff with cell phones and hand-held alarms
Instruct employees not to enter any location where they feel unsafe
Inform healthcare providers of their rights, such as their right to refuse to provide services in a clearly hazardous situation

Acceptable ways for employees to protect themselves:

Learn how to recognize, avoid and diffuse potentially violent situations by attending personal safety training programs
Alert supervisors to any concerns about safety or security
Avoid having employees travel alone into unfamiliar locations or situations whenever possible
Make sure employees carry only minimal money and required ID into community settings

Unfortunately, even with the above precautions in place, nothing guarantees that one of your employees won’t become the victim of workplace violence.

In the event of a violent incident, you must provide prompt medical evaluation and treatment and report them to the local police as promptly as possible. Also, you should inform victims of their legal right to prosecute perpetrators.

After a distressing event of workplace violence, you should discuss the incident with staff members and encourage everyone to share ways to avoid similar situations in the future. For really traumatic events, it’s wise to offer counseling services to help your employees recover.

“How To Handle Workplace Violence And Protect Your Employees”
Julie Copeland
Posted by Julie Copeland

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