Violence in the workplace is an important safety and health issue, one that is too often overlooked or ignored. In many cases, a violent incident can be avoided, because occurrences are often preceded by warning signs. However, these signals frequently go unrecognized--or are recognized but disregarded. Generally, violence develops over time--which means that with proper implementation of an antiviolence policy, employers have a chance to recognize the early signs of violence and stop it before it explodes. What Can Be Done?
Employers do not have to wait until something happens before responding--the optimal time to address workplace violence is now, before any incidents have occurred. Some key components of a workplace violence plan are:
Zero-tolerance policy. Create a thorough, written policy that indicates that no type of violent behavior, including intimidation, threats, and acts, will be tolerated. Any violent incident will lead to discipline, including termination.
Response procedures. Employees need to know how to respond to a perceived or actual threat of violence. Who should employees report their concerns to? Who will conduct an investigation? How will the investigation be handled? Who will assess and address the perceived risk?
Workplace walkthrough. Locate and identify potential hot spots for violent incidents--reception areas, warehouse entries, and other access points are frequently the initial sites of violence. Train these "frontline" personnel on the proper response if a disgruntled individual walks through the door.
Training and education. Once policies and procedures have been written, they must be communicated to managers, supervisors, and employees. Conduct training sessions ...