Preventing Workplace Violence

Any form of violence in the workplace can devastate your safety culture.  But, when workplace violence is reduced and eliminated, you are sure to see an increase in employee morale and a decrease in employee turnover, which positively affects your bottom-line.

There are many different approaches a company can use to develop necessary plans to prevent workplace violence.  An approach that works well in one company may not be the best option for another site.  It is very important to conduct an initial assessment through surveys, checklists, and analysis of the results can be a great help to determine how effective your company’s current policies/procedures, and its ability to handle potentially violent situations.

Training Violence Prevention

Training is a critical component of any prevention strategy. Training is necessary for employees, supervisors, and the staff members of each department who may be involved in responding to an incident of workplace violence. Training and instruction on workplace violence ensures all staff are aware of potential hazards and how to protect themselves and their co-workers through established prevention and control measures.

Remember, providing appropriate training tells employees that management will take threats seriously.  It also encourages employees to report incidents and demonstrates management’s commitment to deal with reported incidents.

Reporting Incidents

The primary consideration in developing a reporting procedure is to make sure it encourages employees to report all incidents, even minor ones. Some companies use hotlines. Some arrange for a member of a team to take the calls, usually a specialist from Human Resources or Security. Other companies require employees to report incidents to their supervisor (or to any company supervisor), who in turn reports these incidents to Human Resources or Security.

Credibility for any reporting system will be dependent upon whether reports are handled quickly and effectively. Word spreads quickly among employees when a report is made and nothing is done, when a report is handled improperly, or when the allegations are not treated confidentially. Therefore, before a reporting procedure is announced to employees, ensure the staff who will be responding to reported incidents are trained and able to handle any reported incidents.

Incident reports should be reviewed on a periodic basis to provide feedback on the effectiveness of existing intervention strategies and prevention efforts.

For more information on creating a violence prevention strategy, see OSHAcademy’s free online course 720 Preventing Workplace Violence.