In 2016 alone 16,890 workers were reported victims of non-fatal workplace violence. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017)
Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical attack, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. These acts can range from verbal abuse to life-threatening assaults.
Although difficult to completely eliminate, employers can reduce the likelihood of workplace violence by establishing a zero tolerance policy, raising awareness of certain risk factors, and training their employees on how to handle a possibly violent situation.
Establishing a zero-tolerance policy is the best protection employers can offer. A zero-tolerance policy should be incorporated into the employee handbook and encompass any individual that comes into contact with company personnel including workers, patients, clients, visitors, vendors, etc.
It is imperative to ensure all workers know the policy and fully understand that any and all claims of workplace violence will undergo a thorough incident investigation and meaningful corrective action will be taken. This should be explained to all new hires and annually reviewed with all employees.
Higher-risk situations should warrant a stricter zero-tolerance policy that is publicly posted. Some high-risk factors and environments include:
- Working at "off-times" of the day, including early morning and late night,
- Isolated locations, where employees alone or with a small staff,
- Working where alcohol is served,
- Exchanging money with the public,
- Delivery Drivers,
- Healthcare professionals,
- Public Service Workers,
- Customer service agents,
- and working with unstable people.
In addition to establishing a zero-tolerance policy and raising awareness of high-risk situations, employers should provide their employees with additional training. By training your employees on how to react in possible volatile situations they may be able to prevent an incident from ever happening.
There are many resources that offer free employee training. Here are a few online classes that are free and easy to register for!
- Violence Prevention Program - Online. Oregon OSHA Online Course. It provides information about methods to recognize, evaluate and respond to risk factors related to workplace violence.
- Maine Business Development Center Training Portal - Online. Contains courses for both Employers and Employees on workplace violence prevention.
For more information on workplace violence and how you can better protect your employees visit OSHA's main site.