Workplace violence: Steps for prevention
Workplace violence is a “growing concern for employers and employees,” OSHA states. In 2016, workplace homicides increased by 83 cases to 500, the highest homicide figure since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, what constitutes workplace violence? According to OSHA, it’s violence or the threat of violence against co-workers, and it can happen at or outside the workplace. It can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicides. About 2 million workers are victims of workplace violence each year, the agency claims.
What can be done
“The employer should establish a workplace violence prevention program or incorporate the information into an existing accident prevention program, employee handbook or manual of standard operating procedures,” OSHA states. All employees should thoroughly understand the policy and know any claims of violence will be investigated promptly.
Other steps employers can take:
- Educate employees on what to do if they witness or are victims of workplace violence, as well as how they can best protect themselves.
- Keep the workplace secure by installing video surveillance, alarm systems and extra lighting. Minimize outsiders’ access by using identification badges, electronic keys and even security guards.
- Ensure field workers have access to cellphones and handheld alarms to use in an emergency, and require them to check in throughout the day.
- Let workers know they should never enter a location if they feel unsafe, and encourage them to use the buddy system at night when walking to their vehicles.
OSHA recommends workers:
- Attend safety training programs, which can help with recognizing a situation.
- Let a supervisor know you have concerns about the safety or security of your workplace, and report any incidents in writing.
- Refrain from traveling alone into unfamiliar situations or locations.