Violence in the workplace is a serious concern. Every year, about 700 people are murdered on the job and many others are physically harmed. Shocking, right? This alarming trend should be deeply concerning for all employers, but preventing workplace violence is possible.

What Is Workplace Violence?

The definition of workplace violence is generally very broad. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as any threat of physical violence, intimidation, or harassment.

There are also a wide variety of people who can commit violent acts in the workplace. Most often, violent incidents occur at the hands of criminals who have nothing to do with the business. This includes robberies or other types of criminal behavior. Others include violence caused by customers, employees, or someone who has a personal relationship with an employee.

How to Prevent Workplace Violence

Every workplace faces different kinds of violent threats, but there are some general rules for preventing violence and keeping your business safe.

  1. Analyze your business: The first step towards preventing violence in the workplace is understanding what the threats are. Determine if there has been violence in your workplace before, what caused it, and how it was handled. If there has never been a violent incident, figure out what the threats are and develop a plan to mitigate them.
  2. Training: There are different types of training available depending on the risks that your particular workplace presents for employees. De-escalation training may be useful for employees at certain businesses, as well as violence and bullying prevention training.
  3. Emergency response plans: While no business wants to have to plan for violence, it’s important to have protocols in place in case something happens. Employees should know what to do to protect themselves in the event of an attack or other violence in the workplace.
  4. Zero-tolerance policy: Once employees have training and understand the emergency response plan, employers should institute a zero-tolerance policy for violence. Violence is never acceptable in the workplace, and employees should understand that if they commit a violent act, they will be fired. This should be laid out clearly in the employee handbook.
  5. Foster a healthy work environment: Even with training and policies in place, violence is more likely to occur in workplaces with a high-stress or toxic environment. Making sure employees feel comfortable and safe at work is the best way to prevent violence in the workplace.
  6. Check-in with employees: Many violent accidents in the workplace are caused by close associates of employees rather than employees themselves. Checking in with employees to make sure their at-home relationships are safe and healthy can help prevent violence. At a minimum, make sure employees know to report to management or HR any personal situations that may bring violence to the workplace so they can be prepared. This information can be outlined in the employee handbook, as well.

Organizing a robust plan to combat workplace violence can be a lot for business owners. To learn how LBMC Employment Partners can help your company develop effective policies and implement training, contact us today.