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We can help you with workplace violence issuesWorkplace Violence

Dealing With Workplace Violence in Your Business

Though commonly considered to be acts of physical assault, workplace violence is actually a problem of much greater range. Workplace violence consists of any behavior in which a person is threatened, intimidated, abused, or assaulted at or relating to his or her employment. It may include such acts as:

           
     
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Workplace Violence

 
      Two employees, one male, one female (pregnant) and both married (not to each other), are friendly toward each other but no obvious signs of romantic involvement. Male's wife suspects an affair between the two. The female ...
 
       
       
       
       
       
       
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  • Threats, verbal or written - which includes any expression where there is an intent to harm the recipient.
  • Harassment - acts which embarrass, demean, humiliate, annoy, abuse, or alarm the recipient, where these acts are known to be unwelcome and undesired. These acts may include gestures, words, intimidation, bullying, and any other inappropriate behaviors.
  • Verbal abuse - swearing, cursing, insulting, or using language that is condescending.
  • Threatening behavior - this includes pounding furniture or walls, shaking fists, throwing objects, or destroying property.
  • Physical attacks - including pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking.
  • Workplace violence doesn't necessarily need to occur at the workplace itself. It can happen at any business-related functions that occur off-site, such as conferences, social events, and trade shows, or away from work altogether, such as in the case of threatening phone calls.

    There are many elements of a workplace - such as its processes and interaction styles - that can place employees at greater risk of workplace violence. Such elements may include:

  • Working directly with the public
  • Performing inspections or enforcement duties
  • Handling or transporting money, prescription medications, or valuables
  • Providing services, advice, education, or health care
  • Working directly with volatile or unstable people
  • Working where alcohol is sold or served
  • Working directly with communities
  • Working alone or in very small groups, or in isolated areas
  • Working overnight hours
  • Working through times of organizational or political change or instability.
  • Occupational groups that tend to be at higher risk of workplace violence than others include:

  • Correctional officers
  • Teachers
  • Health care workers
  • Social services workers
  • Municipal housing inspectors
  • Retail employees
  • Public works employees
  • To recognize if a place of work is at greater risk of workplace violence, perform an investigation that includes the following:

  • Ask individual employees about experiences and concerns
  • Look into the overall risk of the workplace itself, using the aforementioned lists
  • Review past occurrences of workplace violence in places such as first aid records, incident reports, and other related records.
  • Visually inspect the workplace, considering its processes and interactions. Look into its design and layout, as well as its practices and accepted behaviors.
  • To prevent workplace violence, there are many efforts that can be made. Among the most effective is the establishment of a workplace violence prevention program which should include a written policy. This policy should be specific and clear, and should be continuously updated. Make certain that every employee has read and understood the policy, and that any additions are clearly explained. Every employee should be provided with his or her own copy, and each person should sign to state that they have read and understood it. The policy should also provide employees with instructions regarding what they should do if they are victims of workplace violence.

    Prevention is among the best things that can be done to deal with workplace violence, but if it does occur, make sure that there is a solid policy in place for dealing with it quickly and decisively.

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