Have you considered the threat of workplace violence? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are close to 2 million victims of workplace violence in America, annually. This includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, even murder. In fact, homicide is the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States/ In the year 2000, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 674 workplace homicides accounting for 11% of the total 5,915 fatal work injuries.
Recognizing that such threats exist, and knowing that victims of workplace violence not only cost the employer lost workdays but also damage the employer’s reputation, it becomes especially important that steps be taken to protect your staff. There are preventative steps which can be taken to help mitigate violence as well as deal with the aftermath of workplace violence.
To begin with, there should be a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence. Next, policies and procedures should be put into place which include training employees to identify behaviors that may be an indication of future violence. Ensure that all workers know the policies and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and promptly remedied. OSHA has published recommendations for workplace violence prevention programs that are available at www.OSHA.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence.
Maintain a shared data repository of what incidents have been observed. What employees see of their fellow worker’s behavior may allow for management to better understand conditions and situations that may adversely affect worker morale, performance, and other indicators which may be predictive of violent behavior.
Secure the workplace. Where appropriate, install video surveillance, extra lighting, and alarm systems. Further minimize access by outsiders, and issue passkeys and badges sparingly. Provide adequate staffing levels, especially when dealing with “at-risk” individuals. Arrange furniture to prevent entrapment. Establish liaison with local police.
After an incident occurs there needs to be immediate response and evaluation. All workplace violence programs should provide treatment for victimized employees as well as for employees who may have been traumatized by witnessing a workplace violent incident. This may include trauma-crisis counselling, critical incident stress debriefing, and employee assistance programs to help victims.
Lastly, consider the purchase of Workplace Violence insurance which helps pay for expenses relating to business interruption, public image restoration, and lost wages.
Satisfying and relevant mission work is a great gift. Being safe from violence helps assure long-term continuity for both mission and worker alike.