All employers have a legal and ethical obligation to promote a workplace free of threats and violence. Employer violence prevention measures can include the following:
- Develop a workplace violence policy and prevention program and communicate such to employees. The policy should include reporting and investigation procedures. Require that any incident of violence, even threats be reported to management. Investigate all reports of harassment or abusive conduct immediately.
Follow up on harassment issues. Advise victims of corrective action taken by management and encourage them to report any future problems.
- Provide training in preventive measures to all employees but especially supervisors.
Train supervisors to recognize the warning signs of violence and to defuse potentially violent situations. Also during training you can foster a climate of mutual trust and respect among you workforce.
- Give your security guard or receptionist a code word to use if a situation arises.
- Be supportive, rather than punishing victims of workplace or domestic violence.
- Get advice from law enforcement, social service agencies or other professionals when necessary.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, workplace violence was responsible for 564 homicides in 2005 in the U.S. The consensus of specialists on this subject is that workplace violence falls into the following categories:
- Violent acts by criminals who do not have a connection to the workplace but enter to commit robbery or another crime.
- Violence that is directed at employees by customers, clients or others to whom the business provides a service.
- Violence against coworkers or managers by a present or former employee.
- Violence committed by someone with a personal relationship with an employee such as an abusive spouse.
Training employees in non-violent response and conflict resolution procedures might keep volatile situations from escalating to physical violence. All employees need to be aware of the risk of workplace violence and know the procedures for obtaining medical care following a violent incident. Ensure that there is proper visibility and lighting on the premises. Security devices such as closed-circuit cameras and alarms can be helpful in reducing the risk for assaults against workers.
Nothing above supersedes local, state or federal laws. Information is believed to be reliable but Canal HR makes no guarantee as to, and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of the above information and recommendations. Additional safety measures may be required in some circumstances.