Violence in the Workplace: Are You Next?

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Imagine this: You are sitting at your desk on a sunny Thursday afternoon.  Your company is experiencing some hard times, and there have been layoffs company wide.  A co-worker has been part of the layoffs, and is very distraught.  The co-worker may have known layoffs were eminent, and thought it would never happen to them.  All of a sudden, the co-worker pulls out a gun and starts shooting up the office! Far fetched?

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) approximately 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence every year.  According to one Bureau of Labor survey, 70% of workplaces don't have any type of violence prevention program in place.  That's quite an eye opener.

Workplace violence can be any act of physical violence, harrassment, intimidation or other threatening and disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace.  Domestic violence in the workplace is also on the rise.  How can we keep our employees safe?

First and foremost, train managers and supervisors on how to detect the early warning signs of potential violence, the policies and how to address these signs.

Tell employees that the firm wants to know about any threats or incidences, and that they are extremely serious about handling these problems.

Identify a person employees can go to for communication of any threats of violence.  Often this will be the HR Manager.  If there isn't an HR Manager, designate another "go to" person for the employees.

Implement a zero tolerance policy in the handbook relating to workplace violence, and outline the steps to be taken should an employee face this issue.

These are just a few steps to take.  Education and training is the key.  Perhaps we can't always prevent violence from occurring in the workplace.  However, with proper training, the situation can be diffused without harmful after effects.


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