Today’s working environment is much different from what the baby boomer generation was used to. Significant changes in culture, societal norms, and technology have made it critical for employers to keep up with emergent needs in the workplace. And workplace safety is certainly one of the top concerns that you should address.
There are many different threats that your workers face on a daily basis. From the possibility of an active shooting to physical abuse between colleagues, employers need to be proactive when dealing with challenges in the workplace.
Creating a plan for workplace safety is a comprehensive approach. It involves robust policies, employee training, and effective communication. These elements all come together to help deter acts of workplace violence before they occur.
Types of workplace violence
Safety in the workplace has become a top concern for many stakeholders. This means that unions, local authorities, OSHA, and employees themselves consider safe working conditions a top priority. Workplace violence can be described as any activity that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm.
This definition of workplace violence has expanded over the years. Indeed, what may have been previously considered “acceptable” or “ignorable” may now be an explicit form of violence in the workplace. Furthermore, such violence can also occur outside of work and still affect the working conditions of an employee.
Employers need to be aware that workplace violence includes more than just physical abuse. Many forms of emotional and psychological abuse (such as bullying, insults, and surveillance) also fall under the definition of workplace violence.
Some common types of workplace violence include:
- Physical abuse and threats of physical harm
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual assault and violence
- Domestic abuse
How to prepare for (and prevent) workplace violence
Being prepared for workplace violence is the best way of avoiding tragic and costly events. Here’s how you can remain ahead of risks that may affect your employees.
1. Have clear policies in place
Safety starts with having detailed policies in the workplace. From restricting visitor movement to banning weapons, you should take time to develop and inform your workers about what they can and cannot do. You may also need to consider conduct that happens outside the workplace. For example, domestic violence cases may have implications on the perpetrator and the victim when they go to work.
2. Train your employees
Regular training is critical to workplace safety. Sensitizing your employees about types of violence and their associated consequences can help minimize violence in the workplace.
3. Communication is key
Thanks to technology, you can take advantage of emergency communication tools when responding to acts of violence. As a simple example, text messages and voice calls can be automatically sent to workers if a shooting happens. “Panic buttons” can also be activated to alert security personnel in real time if an employee commits violence.
4. Develop a disaster response plan
Finally, make sure you have a disaster response plan to address incidences of violence. This may include partnering with a security firm, having emergency exits in your building, or creating “safe zones” where unauthorized personnel can’t access.
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