Are You Prepared to Handle Workplace Violence?

Julie Shenkman
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Professionals often remain naive to the idea that workplace violence exists, but the harsh reality is that approximately two-million employees fall victim to violence in workplace settings each year. In fact, homicide has been reported as the fourth-leading cause of occupational injuries leading to fatalities in the U.S. alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Learn how to thwart potential violence to keep your work environment safe for all employees.

Recognize the Signs

A company culture that thrives on verbal assaults and threats is likely to lead to workplace violence if the behavior isn't addressed. Recognize the signs of potentially threatening behavior so you can address the situation before it escalates even further. Signs of aggressive or threatening behavior include the use of inappropriate language or inappropriate jokes in the office. Employees who pass off threatening violence in a joking manner may also be escalating. Damage to a co-worker's property or verbal arguments are blatant signs of threatening behavior that need to be addressed immediately as well. Follow your company's policies and procedures regarding corrective action as soon as possible when signs of violent behavior become evident.

Perform Security Audits

Make it a habit to routinely evaluate the safety of your work environment. Perform an audit of the facilities, the building security and surveillance so that employees remain protected during potentially violent situations. For example, create a training program and host workshops to detail protocol with building access, visitor requirements and alarm and security equipment. Show employees how to handle sudden or unexpected workplace violence by designating emergency exits. As a manager, you're responsible for the safety of your workforce. Inform your staff of all security policies and encourage employees to come forward if they feel uncomfortable with the company culture or have experienced workplace violence firsthand.

Address any concerns with a security audit right away. Some businesses hire a third-party company to review processes and protocol while also detailing any physical aspects of the facilities that lack the proper security. Third-party companies may also review data security to assess whether or not your client information is susceptible to threats.

Create an Evacuation Plan

Workplace violence can occur when you and your employees least expect it. Put processes into place that prevent weapons or guns from entering company buildings. Communicate a plan for dealing with emergencies or active shooters. For example, train employees on steps to report potential threats while also providing specific information on how to evacuate the building during an emergency.

Be prepared to discourage workplace violence while also putting processes into place that fully protect your employees. Communicate with your staff, and train them how to report and react to further enhance your businesses' inner workings.

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