How Can Your Business Prevent Workplace Violence?
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How Can Your Business Prevent Workplace Violence?

Proactivity Is Key to Preventing Workplace Violence

Most businesses mistakenly believe that their company is immune from workplace violence. Unfortunately, this type of thinking not only allows attacks to occur but also leaves businesses ill-equipped to deal with them.

What Is Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can range from verbal threats to a fatal workplace shooting. In addition, the term “workplace violence” does not apply exclusively to employees, but can also involve clients, customers, and visitors.

No business is immune from workplace violence; however, the risk is often higher for sales, protective services, transportation, healthcare and social services workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15,980 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from non-fatal workplace violence in 2014. The same year, 409 workers were workplace homicide victims. Recently, a New York City EMT lost her life when she was run over by her stolen ambulance.

Adopting Policies to Improve Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to maintain reasonably safe and healthy workplaces, which may apply to certain incidents of workplace violence. Businesses may also face personal injury and wrongful death suits alleging that their negligence contributed to an incident of workplace violence.

Accordingly, all businesses should draft and implement employee policies and procedures aimed to prevent workplace violence. Key provisions include:

  • A "zero-tolerance" policy expressly stating that violent, threatening, intimidating or aggressive conduct towards another employee, customer, vendor or business associate will not be tolerated. 
  • A policy banning the possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons on company property;
  • A policy detailing the process through which workers should inform the company about any protective or restraining order that includes the workplace as a protected area; and
  • A policy outlining the procedures for anonymously notifying the company about potentially violent conduct by fellow employees.

In addition to enacting a workplace violence policy, businesses must ensure that managers are properly trained to diffuse potentially violent situations. It is also important to have procedures in place to quickly and thoroughly investigate allegations of workplace violence.

Businesses can also improve workplace safety by implementing comprehensive security measures. During business hours, security measures may include restricting access to buildings using key cards, requiring all visitors to sign in, and hiring security guards. It is also important to monitor security after hours via alarm systems, video surveillance, or around-the-clock security personnel.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to discuss the matter further? If so, please contact me, Sean Dias, at 201-806-3364.

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AboutSean D. Dias

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