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► Preventing Workplace Violence: How Can Employers Help?

Preventing workplace violence is a high priority. Obviously, no one wants an unsafe workplace. While there’s no way to ensure violence never happens, there is a lot employers can do to try to prevent workplace violence from occurring.

Remember that workplace violence encompasses more than just obvious acts of physical harm. It can include behaviors that make others feel threatened, behaviors that are unduly disruptive to a good working environment, behavior that is intimidating or harassing, and more. Also remember that workplace violence and related behaviors can impact employees, customers/clients, contractors, vendors, and even the public.

Workplace Violence Prevention Tips

Here are some tips for employers looking to prevent violence in the workplace:

  • Develop, maintain, communicate, and enforce antiviolence, antiharassment, and antibullying policies. Some businesses opt for a zero-tolerance policy. In other words, any instance of behavior that qualifies is grounds for immediate discipline or even termination.
     
  • Reduce the use of cash whenever possible to lower the risk of violence involved in stealing cash. (Obviously, some workplaces won’t be able to implement this tip.)
     
  • Eliminate the consumption of alcohol on the premises if it’s not a part of the business’s standard offerings.
     
  • Have an open-door or a similar policy that lets employees know where they can turn to with any concerns. Consider having an anonymous option for reporting problems.
     
  • Consider offering training to employees (or at least supervisors and above) on reducing and preventing violence. There are multiple training options, including ways to de-escalate the situation when problems arise.
     
  • When hiring new employees, conduct background screening, including screening that could uncover past violent behavior.
     
  • Consider limiting business hours when possible so as not to include overnight hours, and in some cases, even consider limiting hours to daylight hours.
     
  • Provide programs that help employees manage stress, which can help reduce the risk of developing short-tempered employees.
     
  • If there are any claims or complaints of workplace violence and related behaviors, investigate them immediately, take them seriously, and take action to ensure the problem does not happen again.
     
  • When appropriate, limit workplace access for anyone not required to be on the premises. This could include things like implementing security systems or locks, requiring anyone visiting to sign in with either security or reception upon arrival, etc.
     
  • Implement other security measures like cameras and good lighting for all areas.
     
  • Consider hiring security personnel for the building and grounds.
     
  • Ensure employees have a secure way to get to their vehicle after dark. If employees leave during this time, provide a means (like security guards) to ensure they do not have to walk to their transportation alone.


We recognize that many of these ideas are not feasible for a lot of businesses. That said, they do take risk factors into account, like late hours, use of cash, and alcohol. These factors are hard to avoid in some industries, but in others, the above ideas may be helpful.

To learn more about preventing violence in your workplace, attend Safety Summit 2020—April 7-8, 2020, in  Indianapolis, IN. Safety Summit will feature its own workplace violence track that coincides with other safety-related sessions. Click here to learn more, or to register today!

By Bridget Miller.  Ms. Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management and is a guest columnist and writer for BLR and HR Advisor.

[2/2020]
 

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