In recent years, the unsettling trend of workplace violence has experienced an uptick - a serious issue that is proving to be capable of occuring anywhere at any time. No industry, organization, or team is exempt from the potential of violence occurring - or the responsibility of preventing it. Avoiding this mindset, as well as several of the common mistakes below, will help you re-evaluate your violence prevention program and continue to ensure the safety of your organization.
“Sure, it happens…but it probably won't happen here.” Has this thought ever crossed your mind during a discussion of workplace violence? The hard truth is that an overwhelming amount of violent incidents have occurred in organizations that believed they were immune to it. This dismissal not only indicates the organization is unprepared to manage a violent incident, but they are also not taking any steps to prevent it by reviewing their emergency management protocol. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes that the risk of assault at the workplace can be reduced if the employer takes proper precautions. “OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and federal workplaces.” Preparation can be as simple as the implementation of mass notification controls that all employees are familiarized with, and making sure they are comfortable not only with using it, but recognizing an event that calls for its use. For example, hospitals have implemented duress buttons for employees during emergencies.
As any security professional will tell you, it does not take an expert to realize that organizational insiders are just as capable of causing violence as outsiders, if not more so. However, an increase in the number of violent incidents combined with a lackadaisical attitude toward reviewing emergency management plans has left some organizations blindsided. An overwhelming majority of the time workplace violence comes from an employee due to a combination of internal and external factors, and organizations should refamiliarize themselves with the subtle hints of possible violence prior to acting. Being aware of behavioral changes in employees, monitoring social media for signs of intended violence, observing an employee’s attendance habits, and monitoring use of company resources may all indicate an incident is about to occur. For example, organizations should take note when an an employee is attempting to access a system or area they are otherwise prohibited from using.
Keeping the potential for workplace violence on your radar while recognizing these pitfalls could prevent an issue from occurring in your business. In conjunction with an annual re-evaluation of your educational programs regarding the classical indicators of violent potential in employees and how to report incidents, you will be taking every possible step to prevent incidents from occurring. If you feel unsafe at your workplace or want more information on the signs of workplace violence, contact OSHA at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/ for assistance.