Worker Safety Oversights that Lead to Workplace Violence
Workplace violence: no one wants it to happen, especially those of us in safety positions. However, sometimes precautionary steps regarding workplace violence are often overlooked as we tend to focus on the sometimes more salient environmental risks within the workplace. In many cases, the precautionary measures that are overlooked are the tactics that can identify and correct a threat of violence before the situation becomes dire. The following are common oversights/mistakes made by companies that can end up leading to escalated workplace violence.
Failure to identify social risks during a hazard/risk analysis
SoloProtect considers conducting a hazard/risk analysis to be an essential aspect of effective workplace safety, and many safety professionals are already in the habit of conducting these regularly. However, these analyses tend to focus on environmental risks presented by physical aspects of the worksite or procedures performed within the worksite. Risks of workplace violence should also be considered during these analyses. Those performing the analysis should actively seek out any gaps or weak spots within safety policies, training and general communication that leaves room for a workplace disaster. Relationships and morale should be investigated upon across the company and within its departments to unveil any warning signs. Finally, unique characteristics that make your company more vulnerable to violence should be identified.
No standard policies in place in the event that workplace violence occurs
Again, here we will see the theme of accounting for environmental risks while overlooking opportunities of violence. We would venture to guess that all of you have some sort of policies set in place to prevent accidents regarding specific workplace procedures, as required by OSHA in many instances. You probably also have procedures set in place for accidents and environmental disasters, such as a chemical spill or a building fire. However, we’re willing to guess that there are a lot less procedures developed around workplace violence prevention and management. For instance, what policies do you have set in place for when and how a threat should be reported? How does your company handle verbal abuse? Do you have standard procedures set in place for violent situations such as an active shooter or a bomb threat? Without a clear and specific protocols set in place, preventable cases of workplace violence will not be prevented and, when managed improperly, can turn disastrous. For example procedures centered around some of the above mentioned items, see our guide, “Building Your Emergency Action Plan.”
Improper training/communication of workplace violence standards
Some of you may actually have defined protocols and procedures revolving around workplace violence as mentioned above, but unless ALL employees are familiar with these procedures and aware of their own responsibilities, your company is still left vulnerable in threats and actual situations of workplace violence. During worker safety training, employees should learn early warning signs of workplace violence, when/how to report threats and abuse and what to do in hypothetical violent situations. We cannot stress the importance of this enough. There have been too many instances of violent outbreaks within a company that likely could have been prevented if another employee had reported upon instances of threats or other verbal abuse that they may have experienced by the assailant before the violent outburst. However, many employees don’t realize that it is necessary to do so.
No communication with outside resources
This is one that many people don’t realize is necessary. All companies should always have a list of nearby resources that can assist them in violence prevention or management. Examples of resources include psychologists, local law enforcement and security companies. Someone within your company should reach out to these resources to let them know that they are, in fact, listed as a resource for your company. This will help these outside sources familiarize themselves with your company and how they can help as well as gives them the opportunity to provide advice specific to your company.
Workplace violence is often thought of as one of the less controllable aspects of worker safety because of its unpredictability, but this is exactly why worker safety professionals should not ignore or overlook methods of workplace violence protection. By simply accounting for the items mentioned above, you can greatly increase the potential of preventing workplace violence and successfully managing a violent situation. To learn more about how SoloProtect can help keep your employees safe, visit www.soloprotect.com/us.