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Workplace Violence: What Steps Should You Take Now?

Due to recent events in the news you have probably found yourself asking what if violence entered your workplace? This can happen in a number of different ways – a disgruntled current employee, a potentially violent individual you recently terminated, an unhappy spouse, or someone who wasn’t even on your radar.  Under the OSHA General Duty Clause, employers have some liability for the well-being of their employees. You can’t prepare for everything, but there are certain steps that should be taken now.

  • Zero Tolerance. Dealing with violence begins before something even happens. Do not dismiss threats, even if it is said they were meant in a joking manner.   Address any physical violence immediately, with significant consequences.
  • Have a plan now. Do not wait. Not only could you incur tragedy, but your plan will be reactive and less effective versus thinking objectively about all possibilities.  Larger employers may put together an emergency response team including people from a variety of departments.  Smaller employers may have a few leaders who design the plan.
  • Make sure people know the plan. Your prevention strategy does not do any good if employees are unaware of how to react in an emergency. Part of the plan and training is to make sure employees know who to notify of suspicious behavior and what next steps to take.  (You may have seen the three main options to consider:  hide, run, or fight.).
  • Every day security. Maintain locked doors.  Remind team members to question any unrecognized visitors.  Don’t allow employees to give out codes or keys. Have a secure and validated sign in /out system.
  • Involve law enforcement. You might decide that security guards or police officers make sense as part of your everyday security.  But at the very least, they should be part of your plan. Whose job is it to call 911? When are they called? Do they need to be alerted of a potential threat?
  • Recovery. In the unfortunate event that something does occur, what happens afterwards? Employers should provide support for affected employees. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be a great resource to help team members with the impact of workplace violence.

Source: The Employers Association

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