Workplace violence can be defined as any act of harassment, threat, physical harm, or threating behavior that can happen at a workplace. These may include physical assault, verbal abuse, or in extreme cases – homicide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) recorded more than 5,417 fatalities due to workplace violence in 2017. The National Safety Council reported 18,000 fatalities in 2017. reported 18,000 fatalities in 2017. Workplace violence is more prevalent in the transportation industry with taxi drivers and the service sector – including healthcare and education. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) highlights that workplace violence can fall in categories such as personal relationships where women are targeted, worker-to-worker, customer and client and criminal intent or aggressive behavior.
Considering the fact that workplace violence carries business risks such as damage to reputation, loss in production and a possible lawsuit from employees, it is important to seek support and guidance from experienced business risk professionals to help train employees how to reduce violence and mitigate legal proceedings, if any arise.
Responding to Violent Situation
Employees should be made aware, both by theory and through mock drills, regarding how to respond to violent situations. If there is an active shooting or employees who exhibit aggressive behavior, they should remain calm until law enforcement officers arrive, or run and hide. Employees should leave their belongings behind and look for the nearest escape route. Phones should be put on silent mode and doors should be locked. Employers should have security protocols to address violent situations.
Stay Aware of Warning Signs
Employees should report violent behavior to their supervisors. Some warning signs include co-workers working under the influence, showing signs of depression or emotional distress, paranoia, unexplained or irregular absenteeism or suicidal comments. Timely reporting can help reduce the risk of violence through proper threat assessment.
The Illinois Workplace Violence Prevention Act provides guidance on how to prevent workplace violence and provide for employee safety. Supervisors should be aware how threat assessment and response works and explain to employees the cardinal rule in sharing any violent behavior when they see it. Employers should ensure whistleblowers are protected as per law and all employees are screened before being hired. All supervisors and managers should ensure zero-violence policy is adhered to and should highlight any irregular behavior to human resource department for immediate counseling.
If you want to learn more about workplace violence and other workplace safety issues then contact SIA Insurance Group by calling at (630) 325-4000.
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