Workplace violence has become an emerging occupational hazard and an urgent one that should be taken care off.
For many occupations, violence has become an occupational risk of high margin. And this violence can take many forms such as intimidations, stalking, bombing, kidnapping, suicide etc.
These violence forms can contribute to workers having low morale at work, low productivity, lost work and an increase in the cost of medical treatment.
Many who have not experienced workplace violence think that it doesn’t exist. In reality, it does exist. Some even believed that it cannot happen in their department even when in reality they’re not doing anything to prevent it from happening.
However, according to the Occupational safety and health (Osh) Act of the United States, and other relevant health and safety laws.
Employers have the responsibility of making sure that the workplace is free of hazard like workplace violence and any other things that can cause harm or injury to workers.
And for every workplace, the best is to have plans on how to prevent workplace violence. And reading up this article can help you do just that.
Below are the lists of what can be done to prevent workplace violence.
1. New employee background check.
When hiring workers, the best is to do a background check on them; you can also do this when you have hired them to know if they have a history of violence. If there is a history of workplace violence, you may have to retract the job offer to prevent that kind of behaviour in your workplace.
2. Create an anti-violence policy in the workplace.
Policies are the intents of the management. It’s a predetermined guide that gives direction when making decisions. A policy informs the workers about the acceptable behaviours needed from them and their various responsibilities.
The content of the policy should show the items below.
- All employees are responsible for maintaining a safe workplace.
- Asides physical violence, the policy should capture harassment and intimidation.
- It will show that the management will respond to all incidents at work.
- The company will act to stop any form of unacceptable behaviour at work.
3. Encourage the workers to report every act of violence and incidents.
When there is no trust, workers don’t like to report incidents or violations.
The management must have to encourage trust with the workers. Ensure that you can protect their interest and confidentiality when they make reports.
And give them assurances that no retaliation will happen to them. The incident report forms to be filled must be present for an eventual incident investigation from it. Investigate every report to ensure the prevention of future occurrence.
Items to be included on the incident report Includes.
- Name of the threat maker
- Name of the victims
- Location of the incident
- Time of the incident.
- The specific language of the threat.
- Name of witness or witnesses.
- The appearance of the threat whether physical or emotional
- Various events leading to the threat.
- Any suggestion on preventing workplace violence in the future.
4. Develop a workplace violence prevention plan.
The major component of the workplace violence prevention plan is on prevention. It includes identifying signs that lead to violence and putting control measures to prevent violence from happening. An employer can make it a separate document on its own. Or they can incorporate it into an existing emergency plan or accident prevention plan.
Workplace violence warning signs could be from co-workers or individuals outside the workplace. Well, a higher number of incident percentage are from individuals outside the workplace.
5. Create effective communication.
Effective communication goes a long way in preventing workplace violence. If there are good communication lines in your workplace, it will help your workers to know who, when and how to report any workplace violence signs the moment they see one. HR has to create a line where workers can comfortably make reports on violence issues such as grievances, assaults, threats etc., and they get timely feedback. Resources on conflict resolution should equally be made available for workers to read and digest at their own time.
6. Managing your visitors.
How you manage your visitors from the entrance gate of your workplace will ensure they keep to non-violent ways while in your workplace. Most workplaces will require a visitor to undergo a safety induction. At the safety induction, rules in the place would be on display to such a visitor either verbally or through visual thereby will form their habit for the time they were present. Some workplaces have security men that patrol around, and that too can help to checkmate violence. Video surveillance would add some level of security and especially at places where people are prone to cause violence.
7. Prevent conflict situations from turning into violence.
Some situations in the workplace can give rise to violence. Such as when workers are laid off, or disengaged. Disengagement of workers can give rise to anger. And the affected worker may want to retaliate unfavourably. So you should prepare for such situations by informing your security team beforehand to handle it if such happens.
8. Education on workplace violence prevention.
Workers can be educated workers through instruction, training and evaluation. And this impacts the needed skills, knowledge and abilities to the worker. Every worker is necessary to undergo education as this would help to encourage safe work behaviours and prevent violence on site.
The training will help to inform the employee that the management takes an act of violence on the job seriously. And they would further encourage the employees to report violence incidences and expect good feedback from them. Training topics could be on, managing anger, how to resolve conflicts, Dealing with hostile persons. And so on.
When incidents happen, it’s good you perform a thorough investigation to find out what lead to such incidence. It will go a long way to help prevent any recurrence in future. Ask enough questions to get to the root cause of the violence. Check out for the violence warning signs. Ask on what lead to the incidence, whether if procedures were followed or not. Or whether the workers have undergone training in that particular activity. Answering the questions will help you to get the root of the problems and proffer solutions and help to prevent workplace violence.
Well, eradicating violence and its signs at the workplace will be easy if you incorporate the above prevention strategies.
More so, preventing workplace violence helps to encourage a safe work environment. Employers have a lot of roles to play in providing a safe workplace. On the other hand, the workers have to be show commitment to ensure we have a safe workplace for all.
Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.