Workplace Violence Sources and Solutions
Workplace violence is an area that cannot be overlooked or dismissed. In October 2011, a Bay Area city in California experienced a tragic workplace violence incident. A disgruntled employee brought multiple firearms on the job-site and opened fire, killing 3 employees and injuring several others. According to OSHA, nearly 2 million American workers reported being victims of workplace violence each year, and it is believed that many cases go unreported. Workplace violence can occur anywhere at any time and employers must constantly combat the potential of violence in the workplace. Individuals who may be at risk for workplace violence include employers, employees, clients, vendors, customers and the general public. Often industries with heavy cash flow reliance, environments with mentally unstable people (due to illness or a diagnosis), services centering around alcohol and physical locations with isolated employees may trigger opportunities for potential violence or theft.
Although some organizations have stronger security measures in place than others, including employee identification badges, locked entrances, metal detectors, etc., sometimes these may not be enough to provide a safe workplace. Employers can help to minimize workplace violence by:
- Establishing a zero-tolerance workplace violence policy that encompasses all individuals who come in contact with the business, including customers, visitors, employees, etc. This policy should encompass provisions for threats, harassment, intimidation, weapon authorization (if applicable), and relevant disciplinary action.
- Creating a written and enforced Workplace Violence Prevention Program covering the administrative costs, analysis, evaluation, complaints, investigations, and proactive workplace violence prevention strategies.
- Reducing stress by using Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), managing performance with ongoing evaluations, providing fair and consistent policies pertaining to terminations, and acknowledging employees’ contributions to the organization.
- Reviewing hiring practices to ensure background checks are conducted when needed and avoiding negligent hiring practices.
- Monitoring workplace safety protocols to ensure compliance with the organization’s termination procedures (i.e. return of company property, witnesses for termination meetings, etc.), and evaluating threats concerning policies or regulations about concealed weapons.
- Creating and communicating a safety plan to be utilized if the organization has a workplace violence incident.
Employers have an obligation to provide a workplace that is safe and secure. Employees have an obligation to comply with their organization’s standards regarding behavior and safety. Hopefully, the above information will help your organization properly reduce the likelihood of a violent workplace incident.