To implement a workplace violence prevention program, you must first realize and accept that workplace violence can happen anywhere and at any time. Recognition of this fact is a positive starting point. The next step is organizational commitment. Leadership must establish safe workplace policies that deal with conflict and set forth procedural guidelines to be implemented if workplace violence, or the threat of violence, occurs. Supervisors must be provided additional training in order to understand how to recognize and implement the necessary steps to prevent and address both verbal and physical threats in the workplace.
If you notice a person showing any signs of violent behavior, you should take the following steps. If it is a co-worker, notify the employee’s supervisor immediately. If it is a customer, notify your supervisor immediately. If it is someone who reports directly to you, then you should immediately evaluate the situation. Finally, if it is your supervisor, notify the person’s manager. Always follow your company’s protocol for notifying and escalating information to the appropriate personnel.
If you suspect that someone you know is involved in domestic abuse, speak up!
If you are comfortable talking to the person, have a conversation in private and let them know that you are concerned. Ask if something is wrong, express concern, listen, and validate their feelings. Offer help to connect them with a resource, whether it is through an employee assistance program or a community resource. We all play a role in recognizing the signs, providing support, and preventing domestic violence from occurring in or outside of the workplace. Many times, the situation will require experienced personnel to best determine how to handle the situation. This may include specially trained internal personnel in human resources, labor relations, security, or it may include an external resource, such as your employee assistance program, known as the EAP. However, in the case of a workplace violence emergency, the EAP counselor should NOT be the first to intervene. In hostile or dangerous situations, law enforcement personnel should be called to help without delay. If a violent act has occurred, the EAP can be called upon to help employees cope with the emotional impact of the incident.
Security measures may include elements to control or limit access to the work environment, such as employee photo IDs; on-site security services; physical security measures, such as a fence, alarm, video cameras, etc.; security personnel assistance in registering visitors; the use of employee badges; and directing visitors in large facilities. Other safety features that can deter robberies are working in pairs; drop safes, to limit the amount of cash on hand; increased visibility and lighting; door alarms; panic buttons; bullet-resistant barriers; and height markers. Equipping field staff with cell phones and hand-held alarms or noise devices also can prevent violent acts. Notify law enforcement officials immediately if you observe any suspicious behavior.
Some extremely high-stress professions, such as law enforcement officials and emergency personnel, may employ, or have on call, a psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in the care of employees who may face violence and extreme danger as part of their normal work responsibilities. In these professions, workplace violence may be common, but should never be ignored.
Finally, you should consider other workplace security elements that center around the quality of the work force and the general security of the workplace. Pre-employment screening should include reference and background checks, along with drug screening.
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Get more information about the Violence Prevention in the Workplace Training course here.