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When it Hits Home

 Workplace violence prevention

Just as I was about to finish this blog, word of another workplace shooting flooded the news outlets and social media. The incident took place in the newsroom of the Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Sadly, this time, five people lost their lives.

According to OSHA, at least two million American workers report being a victim of workplace violence each year. By their definition, workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. With more companies expanding the number of employees that make up its mobile workforce, the work site can no longer be defined only as the physical address where the company conducts its official business.

Image by Joseph Boncyzk

Image by Joseph Boncyzk

As we try to remain present with the number of these incidents continuing to rise, we are faced with the reality that we don’t know which day an incident like this will hit home. On that day, we will no longer view this as a spectator in another city or state. It’s the community that we live in. Do business or work in. Have friends or family that live in. What we do know is that once something of this magnitude happens, normal as we knew it, will never be the same.

As employers, we must take every precaution possible to keep our employees safe. OSHA recommends establishing a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence against or by employees as well as a prevention program. In my roles, I’ve always tried to promote a safety-focused culture where employees feel safe to discuss any and all issues. This empowers staff with the freedom to come forward when its most critical and there is a potential workplace violence issue brewing. Employers should also create a safety plan and consider using random drills to help employees understand how to respond in the event violence takes place where they are working.

As employees, if we are harassed, intimidated or threatened, we must be willing to notify the appropriate department, hotline or person. We must also be willing to speak up if we feel someone else is being harassed or threatened. We should follow all of the plans, policies, and programs that our employers have put into place. Finally, we must educate ourselves on the appropriate actions to take should we face an act of violence or active shooter situation.

Today, workplace violence is a reality that we are powerless to erase. We can’t even predict if or when it will happen to us. What we can do is exercise our power to take action to ensure the best possible outcome should it happen in the workplace we call home.

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