As an employer or manager, you’re responsible for keeping workers safe. This includes preventing violence in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 2 million American workers are victims of some sort of workplace violence each year.
Here are answers to common questions about this concerning matter:
Workplace violence is hostility or the threat of hostility against employees. It can occur at or outside the workplace — and can range from threats and verbal abuse to outright physical assault. Whatever form it takes, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees alike.
Although no workplace is completely safe, certain employees are at increased risk. This includes workers who:
Violence can erupt in a variety of relationships, as well. The most obvious is between two colleagues, but violent incidents can also involve a customer, client, patient or student (where the violence is directed at caregivers, police officers, flight attendants or teachers, for example). And often, domestic violence can spill into the workplace, as well.
You need to have formal policies in place for both workplace violence and weapons in the workplace.
It’s important to carefully inspect your workplace. Where appropriate, install video surveillance, lighting and alarm systems. Minimize access by outsiders through identification badges, electronic keys and security guards.
Additionally, you can:
It depends on your state. Although no federal law regulates weapons at work, several states have enacted some form of guns-at-work laws — and they vary greatly. Some states allow employers to totally ban weapons at work, including company parking lots. Others have passed laws that permit employees to store guns in their cars, and many states only allow such prohibitions if the proper notices are posted.
You need to have formal policies in place for both workplace violence and weapons in the workplace. And they need to be clearly communicated to your employees. For tips on creating workplace violence policies, download our free tip sheet, Workplace Violence and Weapons: 10 Tips for Creating Effective and Legal Policies.
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