Every year, 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence. But despite these alarming and climbing numbers, workplace violence remains in the dark. It can be laughed off or dismissed as nothing, something that rarely happens. Or, in other words, not something that you have to worry about.
But the facts are there. Workplace violence is a real threat to our workforce. And it’s the responsibility of the employer to ensure that their employees are safe.
If you think it’s time to take a look at the practices that you have in place for workplace violence prevention, keep reading. We’ll talk about what you need to do to ensure that your environment is a safe one.
What is Workplace Violence?
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration, or OSHA for short, considers any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site to be workplace violence.
This means that anything like threatening someone verbally or physical confrontations are workplace violence.
There are different kinds of workplace violence. They are:
Customer to employee
Coworker to coworker
Everyone plays a role in workplace violence prevention. This goes double for employers because they have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that their employees work in a place free from violence.
If the legal and ethical parts aren’t enough to convince you, there’s also money to be saved by keeping a safer workplace. Both time and money are lost through management, productivity, and employee replacement when violence occurs.
There are a ton of strategies that you as an employer can use to keep your workplace free from violence. We’ll outline our nine favorites here for you.
1. Create a Formal Workplace Violence Prevention Policy
Every workplace needs to be committed to preventing workplace violence. You can start by creating a policy that states to your employees exactly what your stance on this subject is.
Make sure that your employees understand that everyone in the workplace, whether that’s management, co-workers, or customers, need to be treated with mutual respect. There should be no fighting or horseplay or dangerous conduct.
Make sure that you lay out explicitly what will happen if there are indirect or direct threats of violence, and encourage your employees to report any such behavior to you.
2. Provide Regular Workplace Violence Prevention Training
Once you’ve handed out your workplace violence prevention policy, it’s time for formal training. Sit down with all of your employees and talk to them about the policy, answer their questions.
Take the time to train them on the proper way to handle issues between each other.
3. Create the Right Environment
It all starts with you. You’re the one who has to set the tone for your workplace. When your employees see you treating everyone with respect, they’re going to follow suit. And if they don’t, they’ll realize quickly that they don’t fit in with your employees.
You want to create a place that people feel comfortable sharing when they’re uncomfortable. If your employees are willing to come to you when an issue arises, everyone is going to be safer.
4. Start a Mediation Group
No office, no matter how positive the environment, is going to be without its faults. When people are put together for long periods of time, they’re bound to disagree.
You want to have a plan in place for when that happens. Start a group in your workplace that will help coworkers work out their problems in a positive, productive way.
5. Document Threats
If you hear of threats going around your workplace, you need to document them. It doesn’t matter how serious they are or how silly it may seem.
If you terminated an employee and they made a threat, document it immediately.
6. Take Care When Terminating
On that note, you need to take care when terminating employees as well. Have a witness in the room with you at all times and make sure that you have security there to escort them out of the office.
This is a good general practice even if you think the terminated employee won’t have any hard feelings. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
7. Keep Up to Date on Security Features
In this digital age, it’s so much easier to be safe and secure. Make sure that you’re aware of all of the software and hardware that’s available for you to use to keep your office and your employees safe.
You don’t have to have the most high-tech security systems out there, but it’s a good idea to have something in place just in case.
8. Talk to your Employees
If you suspect that an employee has a personal issue outside of the office, talk to them about it. If they have a restraining order against someone, encourage them to take all of the information they can to HR and security.
This is the best way to avoid personal attacks at work.
9. Get a Head Start
Always keep privacy laws in mind when doing research on new potential employees, but also do as much research as you’re legally allowed to do before you hire someone. Most court records are public.
If you have reason to suspect that a potential employee may be violent down the road, consider hiring another candidate.
A Real Threat to Workplace Safety
Workplace violence prevention is incredibly important in today’s workforce. It saves time and money, but more importantly, it saves lives. You have to do whatever you can to ensure that your employees are safe in the workplace.
For more information about making sure your workplace is protected, take a look at our vulnerability assessments today.