The Employee's Role in Preventing Violence
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 11-18-2018 11:25 PM
Synopsis: Every employee in the workplace is vulnerable to violence. From threats and intimidation all the way to assaults and workplace shootings, no worker is completely safe. It's vital that every employee understands the best ways to keep themselves safe on the job.
Employees of large or small companies are often forced to be in proximity to people that are unlike them. In fact, workplaces are some of the last places in the country where we are forced to interact with people that we normally wouldn’t interact with on the street. While this has many positive benefits, the reality is that this social dynamic can lead to conflict. Combined with the fact that workplaces have become more stressful, workplace violence is something that isn’t out of the question.
As an employee of a company, you are trying to juggle many responsibilities throughout your day. You probably can’t imagine having to keep an eye on the bad behavior of others. However, workplace violence is a serious issue. All employees in an organization need to chip in and do their part to help create a welcoming, conflict-free working environment.
Luckily, there are several easy steps that you can take to help prevent workplace violence.
An Introduction to Workplace Violence
But let’s back up. Before discussing how to prevent workplace violence, we need to define the term. OSHA defines workplace violence as “the violence or the threat of violence against workers” that can occur “at or outside the workplace.” While it is easy to envision workplace violence as horrific workplace shootings that we see on the news, workplace violence has a low bar. According to OSHA, workplace violence can include things like threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults or scuffles in the office.
While every employee is theoretically vulnerable to workplace violence, some employees and positions are more vulnerable than others. For instance, OSHA states that individuals like healthcare and social service workers, visiting nurses, psychiatric evaluators, and probation officers are more vulnerable because of the nature of their work and their constant interaction with the public. That said, workplace violence can also occur in a “traditional office,” whether that is two employees quarreling over a certain project or even a manager verbally or physically assaulting a direct report.
As you can imagine, workplace violence affects not only the victims but the victims’ colleagues in the office. Even a single instance of workplace violence can lower morale in the office and make you and your colleagues feel unsafe. It is difficult to concentrate on your work when you are wondering whether physical or verbal abuse is just around the corner.
Preventing Workplace Violence
Yes, managers must do their part to create deter and appropriately punish violence in the workplace. However, employees have their own responsibilities. The following includes some tactics and strategies that you can use to help prevent workplace violence in your office.
To start, employees must understand what workplace violence is and what to do if they encounter workplace violence. Whether this means attending your company’s mandatory training or doing your own research, the first step to preventing workplace violence is understanding what it is. From there, learn what to do if you suspect that workplace violence is occurring. This can mean reporting your suspicions to your supervisor or a representative in your company’s human resources division. Employees often see instances of workplace violence that senior managers don’t see, so it is critical to be the eyes and the ears of your organization. Your managers will thank you.
Next, employees should take proper protocols to protect themselves. Try to minimize your risk when you are in the office. Avoid working by yourself late into the night and try not to travel to unfamiliar locations or situations when you are alone. Common sense is often the best advice here. While it is impossible to predict when a particular incident will occur, understanding common instances of workplace violence and doing your best to protect yourself from them will go a long way.
Finally, employees should go to the police when necessary. In some instances, you may report instances of workplace violence to a supervisor or manager, yet nothing is done to stop repeat cases. In that situation, you may want to think about alerting the police. Discretion is key here. While we cannot give general advice, the police may be the last best option if you are not confident that the workplace violence will stop.
Workplace violence is a tricky subject to discuss. Everyone wants to work in a safe environment, but workplace violence does indeed occur. While there is no guarantee that it won’t happen in the future, employees can play a large part in deterring and preventing workplace violence. Therefore, understanding what it is—and what to do should you suspect that it is occurring—is a crucial task.
The bottom line is this: do your homework, protect yourself, and escalate repeat instances of workplace violence to the police if necessary.