As an employer, you have certain responsibilities to your employees including protection from workplace violence. For example, you need to provide them with a safe work environment. One aspect of this that is not talked about quite as much is workplace violence. It is your obligation to help mitigate workplace violence to protect your business, your employees, your customers, and your reputation. In this article, some informative steps that businesses like yours should take are explained.
Workplace violence is a broad category, and it includes anything that is an act or threat of harassment, intimidation, or physical violence. Sadly, over 2 million people in the United States alone fall victim to workplace violence every year. That statistic is alarming, but what is even more alarming is the fact that every case of workplace violence is not necessarily reported.
In the words of Kelly Johnstone, the former chief security officer for The Coca-Cola Company and Senior Advisor to International SOS: “Just because you as an organization aren’t aware of incidents or workplace violence, doesn’t mean there aren’t any. Unfortunately, it’s more likely the opposite is true.”
The OSHA Act of 1970 requires every employer to provide their employees with a work environment that is free from “recognized hazards” that could or are causing serious harm or death. It is not just your ethical duty to mitigate workplace violence, it is also your legal duty to do so. If you do not proactively address the possibility of workplace violence, it can lead to many problems beyond violence itself, including negative impacts on productivity, declining retention, and a plummeting reputation.
One key component to mitigate workplace violence is properly training and educating all your employees. For example, if a lower employee reports to a supervisor that they were involved in a workplace altercation, the incident has been reported to your company even though that supervisor might not have passed it on to management or relevant parties.
Additionally, to mitigate workplace violence it is a good idea to give your employees multiple different ways of flagging current or potential issues. Many employees are concerned that reporting potential workplace violence could lead to retaliation. To correctly mitigate workplace violence, make sure that your employees understand how to communicate with you and that they will not face any negative consequences for doing so. Every successful workplace violent prevention has an underlying framework of:
- Creating a safe work environment
- Helping both the victim and the accused get assistance
- Allowing your business the ability to flourish
- Creativity in response to each incident
- Weighing the realities of each situation
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to mitigate workplace violence, so it is your job to proactively work to avoid it.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs since 1999. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about the rights of employees who test positive for marijuana, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com