Everyone has a right to feel safe in the workplace. Indeed, the law requires businesses to provide a secure environment in which to work. However, the law cannot prevent workplace violence from happening. That is almost impossible to do.
Workplace violence is a real threat in today’s business world. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA), more than two million Americans are the victims of workplace violence every year. And that does not count the incidents that go unreported. For victims, there is often help, including the right to workers’ compensation.
What is Workplace Violence?
Workplace violence has a lot of definitions. Think of it, loosely, as an action that disrupts the security of the business or harms another person. It might include acts like:
- Harassment, including intimidation, sexual, physical and verbal
- Verbal abuse such as swearing and taunting
- Written threats
- Property damage, like throwing objects
- Physical assaults, including sexual assaults
Think about the extreme pain someone who becomes a victim might experience. It is up to business owners to do everything they can to create a safer working environment for everyone.
Preventing Workplace Violence
Making your business violence-free is not fool-proof. Try as we might, we cannot always prevent it from happening. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Take these steps that might reduce the risks of workplace violence:
- Strictly enforce an employee code of conduct. Make employees aware of these rules as soon as they join the business. Hold all employees to these standards.
- Encourage team-building, professionalism and cooperation in all interactions.
- Keep an eye on business activities at all times. By monitoring employee, client and vendor actions, you can quickly step in if a problem develops.
- Frequently check on employees. Receive feedback on whether they have any concerns for their own or others’ safety.
- Violence can originate from customers and clients as well. Therefore, many businesses have a right to stop services to disorderly clients. Always know when to intervene in problems involving clients.
- Many workplace violence risks are industry-specific. So, if you work in health care, learn how to de-escalate violence in that industry.
Take all reports of workplace violence seriously. Institute a process so that victims have a way to report violent incidents. You can ensure that reports of violence will receive prompt attention.
Should an employee receive physical injuries following violence, they might be able to claim workers’ compensation. Have strong, effective workers’ compensation insurance in place at all times. Check with your local workers’ comp board and insurer to see how your policy governs incidents of workplace violence.