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In 2016, 16,890 workers were injured from nonfatal workplace violence. Hundreds more were killed as a result of workplace violence.
Employers can take an active role in preventing workplace violence. More importantly, it is an employer’s responsibility to take steps to protect workers. The question is, how do you do it?
We’ve compiled four steps to help you prevent violence, create a safer, healthier work environment, and ensure that your workers can go home safe to their families.
First, you have to conduct a security and risk assessment.
After all, how can you reduce vulnerabilities if you don’t know what those vulnerabilities are?
For example, what’s your neighborhood like? What’s your building like? Are there security guards? Cameras? Can visitors come and go from the building as they please?
What about identification? Do your employees wear badges? Do they have to use keys to get in and out of the office?
Who are your neighbors? If you’re next to a bank or government office, those workplaces are more likely to attract a break-in.
Turn the place upside down looking for potential weaknesses. You should be able to spot every possible flaw in your office’s current safety plan.
Of course, workplace violence can come from within just as easily as without.
And while you can’t plan for bad luck, you can prevent festering work problems that boil over into violence.
For that, you need to create (and enforce) a zero-tolerance harassment policy.
Every level of the facility should be involved in creating and implementing this policy. Your employees know best what situations can turn into harassment, so they’re best equipped to tell you what the policy should address.
But remember: the policy won’t do you any good if you don’t enforce it.
Every employee should know exactly what the policy entails and what steps will be taken if they violate it. They should also know that you’ll follow through on consequences.
Violent incidents thrive in silence. In some cases, that’s true of violent intruders and harassers within the workplace.
So, don’t let problems fester. Be prepared to have regular team meetings with open dialogue between your employees. Always try to clear up any misunderstandings and defuse tensions before they have the chance to spread.
Treat your employees with respect and encourage them to be respectful to each other. And if you notice that someone is being disrespectful, don’t let them do it twice. Don’t be afraid to lay down the law if someone is out of line – it shows your employees that you’re serious about a respectful work environment.
Finally, you should always encourage employees to report issues, no matter how small.
This is all part of building an environment of open communication. If your employees aren’t encouraged to speak up when they see problems, they won’t be inclined to say anything when they see something is wrong. That’s how you get festering problems that can eventually erupt into something much worse.
For more resources on how to improve workplace health and safety, visit our blog.
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