We live in a very stressful society. People seem to live on the edge of stress and high emotions at all times, and there is a very real worry that a formerly mild-mannered employee could snap at any time. Incidents of workplace violence seem a constant in the media, and no contractor wants to risk such a thing happening on their job site. Here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind so that you can prevent violence in the workplace and handle incidents that do arise.
Violence in the Workplace
The first thing that is important to understand is that workplace violence is not necessarily defined as a physical act. When there is even a threat of harassment, intimidation, violence or threatening behavior at work, this is defined as workplace violence. This problem affects employees, but also potentially customers, visitors to the site and other clients or even innocent bystanders.
In 2014 there were nearly 4,700 workplace fatalities, of which over 400 were homicides. Almost 2 million people across the nation report being victims of violence in the work place annually, and there are many cases that simply are not reported. The problem is epidemic.
There are many forms of workplace violence, but some of the most common ones are often ignored. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a situation can be potentially harmful, but these days it is important to be extra cautious.
Common Types of Violence
- Damaging or destroying property
- Intimidating other co-workers (including hazing)
- Verbal abuse
- Direct and indirect threats
- Concealing or using a weapon
- Physical assault
It is important to identify risk factors for workplace violence to prevent and minimize the potential for problems. The first thing that has to be done is establishing a zero tolerance policy where violence in the workplace or the threat of violence is concerned. Such a policy should be sweeping and broad-reaching and cover everyone, from management on down to visitors to the site.
Employers can look to OSHA for guidelines on assessing the job site to reduce the likelihood of violent instances. Educating your employees, as always, is a vital part of keeping your workplace safe and secure. Keep an open and constant line of communication with employees so you can hear and address any concerns which might be indicators of potential violence or which could get out of hand if not recognized.
Violence Prevention Programs
A violence prevention program is important to keeping your staff educated and aware. This doesn’t necessarily need to be separate training (we all know that yet another training program could be damaging to productivity), but it can be incorporated into existing workplace safety programs.
Your policies and education materials should always be included in your employee handbook and operating procedures. Ensure that all of your workers know and understand the policy and understand that you will investigate and respond to any allegations without bias.