Violence is a rare occurrence in most business operations, but it can be damaging to the environment when it does. Every organization should be prioritizing workplace violence prevention no matter the frequency of the event.
Nearly 2 million American workplace violence cases are reported, according to OSHA, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that 761 of the 5,333 fatal injuries in 2019 were intentionally caused by a person. Employers must take action to identify threats and prevent violence in the workplace.
This guide will walk you through how to protect everyone in your office building.
What is Workplace Violence Prevention?
OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite.” This can include between or against employees as well as customers, members of the public, visitors, and intruders.
A workplace violence prevention program seeks to identify risk factors and warning signs, then take steps to protect employees from them. A zero-tolerance workplace violence policy helps employees feel safe at work, freeing them up to focus on their jobs rather than worrying about safety. This boosts morale and improves productivity, as well as helps you avoid complicated and expensive legal issues that may arise from violent incidents in the workplace.
10 Useful Tips for Preventing Workplace Violence
There are a number of steps you can take to prioritize safety and health for your employees and prevent violence in the workplace. Start with the following measures:
1. Conduct Background Checks
Be careful about hiring workers with a history of violent behavior. A background check will reveal charges of assault, domestic violence, and more.
2. Conduct Drug and Alcohol Testing
When people are under the influence, their decision-making skills are impaired, and they may become more violent. Having a drug and alcohol testing policy not only ensures your workers are in the right state of mind to do their jobs, but may also reduce workplace violence.
3. Use Fair Procedures
Disgruntled employees can turn violent, which is why the human resources department needs to have clear and fair operating procedures in place for hiring and firing workers. If and when it comes time to dismiss an employee, you’ll want to see a recorded history of their behavior or performance that led to the dismissal. Provide proof for all of the warnings you gave them about that behavior or the attempts you made to improve their performance. The employee handbook should offer a clear outline of expectations and consequences, and all employees must be held to the same standards.
4. Hire Security Guards
Hiring security guards can improve productivity while preventing workplace violence. The guard can help reduce tension between employees, monitor visitors, stop an assault or another crime, and contact law enforcement when necessary. This allows each worker to improve their focus rather than feeling distracted by safety and health. Companies of all sizes can benefit from having a security guard. You can also provide a buddy system where employees are escorted by each other or a security guard to their cars at the end of the day.
5. Install Video Surveillance
Security monitoring serves several occupational safety purposes. It can not only catch intruders and other threats that may approach from the outside, but also record sights of bullying, disrespect, theft, and other abusive behavior. If there is a violent incident, security camera footage can help determine what happened and who was at fault.
6. Implement a Zero-Tolerance Policy
The National Safety Council recommends that organizations adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding workplace violence. This may include a clear explanation in the employee handbook as well as in safety training sessions. Your team should know that unacceptable behaviors will result in termination and, if applicable, criminal charges.
7. Host Workplace Violence Training
Training sessions help employers and employees understand the potential threat of violence. Members of your organization should learn about the right protocols to specific situations. As a company leader, you may need to identify:
- Workers who are most at risk of violence, like those who handle cash transactions or work at night and might experience more dangerous scenarios
- Workers who are most likely to commit violence, such as those with a history of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, or mental health challenges and may need extra training and supervision
The idea is to train your employees to understand what constitutes violence to prevent it from happening.
8. Secure Your Entrances
You should know who is in your facility at all times. Securing your entrances may mean implementing visitor check-in and -out procedures. It may include the use of security fences and access-controlled gates, security cameras, metal detectors, and other tools.
9. Report Workplace Violence
Unfortunately, many instances of workplace violence, bullying, and verbal threat go unreported. No one should have to work in a place where they feel unsafe. Encouraging workers to report disruptive behaviors is essential. They should be able to make these reports without fear of repercussions from management or co-workers.
10. Hire a Security Company
All workplaces have different needs when it comes to security. The size of the building, the number of people involved, your location, and the type of business or activity that’s conducted will all play a role in your approach to violence prevention. Healthcare facility workers face potential violence from emotional family members, for example, as well as from patients who are injured, fearful, or under the influence. These needs are different from those in a convenience store where the primary threat of violence may come during a late-night robbery attempt.
A professional security company can help you assess your building and identify potential threats while providing experienced armed or unarmed security guards and video surveillance for your facility.
Get Assistance With Workplace Violence Prevention
Businesses in every sector should implement a workplace violence prevention program for the safety of the people and the property. Contact SMART Security Pros to speak with an expert about general safety measures and tips to create a safer workplace environment.
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SMART Security Pros is a provider of armed security services utilizing only active/retired/prior law enforcement officers as well as Mobile Video Guard Surveillance services. Shawn Scarlata is the Founder/CEO and the author of this post.