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There’s never a good time, but I want to talk about a difficult subject today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 392 workplace homicides in 2020. There were also 37,060 nonfatal injuries resulting from an intentional injury by another person. Organizations – and especially their employees – should not have to deal with this.
Organizations need to have policies with zero tolerance for workplace violence. They need to educate employees on what to do if they are subject to or witness workplace violence. Human resources departments should be trained on how to properly investigate workplace violence concerns. And the organization needs to be prepared to act to prevent incidents and also deal with them if they happen.
I know many organizations might say to themselves, “Oh hey, thanks for the reminder. But we really don’t need to spend our time and resources on this. No one this going to hurt anyone else. Our employees aren’t like that.” I want to remind everyone that workplace violence isn’t just between coworkers. It could involve a customer, vendor, or the friend / family member of an employee.
There are many things to consider when it comes to having workplace violence related conversations within the company. Here are some resources that you can use.
U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) has a web page that outlines how to recognize the levels of violence and response. There’s also a section on how to respond when a violent event happens in the workplace.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) website has a workplace violence prevention program for nurses and an online program that was developed for the state of Oregon. These could be helpful in thinking about your own program.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a toolkit for “Understanding Workplace Violence Prevention and Response”. The toolkit includes information about insurance needs and developing a violence prevention plan.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have a web page focused on occupation violence which includes information about reducing workplace violence in gasoline stations and convenience stores.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that a workplace violence prevention policy is one that we create and hope we never have to use. But the reality is that we need to have one. And we need to regularly remind employees that it exists.
If the organization hasn’t looked at their workplace violence prevention policies and procedures lately, it might be a good time for a review. Make sure the policy doesn’t need any revisions, especially if the organization has adopted some hybrid and remote work options. Organizations that are welcoming employees back onsite might want to conduct a mini return to the workplace orientation with a review of some of these policies. The company can also include anti-harassment training.
Employees want to know that their workplace is safe. Having policies that address violence tells employees that the organization will not tolerate it.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Gainesville, FL
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