There have been over 35,000 gun violence incidents within 2016 alone. Incidents in schools and businesses represent 7 out of 10 active shootings according to a report published by CNN.
Violence in the workplace—both gun-related and other kinds—is a sad reality in the world today. It’s time to ensure we know what to do when faced with violence on the job.
Violence in the WorkplaceWorkplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.”**
OSHA reports nearly two million American workers reported being a victim of workplace violence each year—and that only includes reported cases. Many more go untold. How can we put a stop to these incidents?
Putting a Stop To Workplace Violence“It all starts with hiring,” says Andrea Ashman, human resources manager for Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM). Ashman recommends taking the time to conduct a thorough background check, which includes evaluating references on the person’s character and personality.
In addition to vetting new hires, Ashman notes it’s also important to know your employees and know what sparks individual responses. “Be aware of each employee’s mental health. You don’t want to trigger anything.”
It’s also important that employees know what to do should they witness or experience an act of violence. “If it is life threatening, you call 911 first,” said Ashman. “Then, immediately report it to your manager and HR.”
Having a safety committee at work can also help reduce the number of violent acts in the office. “The safety committee looks out,” explained Ashman. “We evaluate ways to keep the office safe. We have certain measures in place and conduct training sessions like ‘Lunch and Learns’ on handling active shooter situations. We educate employees on how to be prepared for situations like these.” This includes sending out literature and tips, keeping employees informed, teaching them how to be safe, and circulating the company handbook, which includes the harassment policy.
“Here at ARM, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of harassment,” said Ashman. “We take immediate action once there is any form or indication of harassment. We take it seriously.”
Evaluating Your Workplace Violence PoliciesBegin the process of eliminating violence at your job by asking the following questions:
- Does my place of employment have a policy on workplace violence?
- Does it need to be updated?
- Do my coworkers know the policy?
- Does my workplace foster a sense of security that encourages employees to share and report when something is wrong?
- Adopt and promote a prevention policy against harassment.
- Establish clear codes of conduct.
- Organize awareness and training sessions.
- Do not allow conflicts to escalate into harassment or acts of violence.
- Set up effective lines of communication.
- Pay special attention to the quality of relationships among members of a work team.
- Encourage the acceptance of individual differences.