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How To Deal With Workplace Violence

Posted on:   In: Blog

The sad reality is that workplace violence is an increasing problem that affects many companies, even small businesses. Every employer should put measures to prevent such issues, and should also be aware of restrictions and legal responsibilities imposed on them concerning prevention of workplace violence.

The best approach to workplace violence is to prevent it. According to statistics, the number one cause of job-related deaths is homicide. It is said that each year, there are approximately two million victims of violence in the workplace which is a growing concern for both employees and employers nationwide.

What is workplace violence?

Violence in the workplace is the threat or violence against workers, which occurs outside or at the workplace. It ranges from verbal abuse and threats to homicide and physical assaults.

How can you identify vulnerable employees?

Workplace violence can happen to anyone and anywhere although some work environments and workers are at an increased risk. Employees who are at more risk include:

  • Those in direct contact with the public
  • Those who work in high-crime areas
  • Those who work during very early morning and late night hours
  • Those who work in small groups or alone
  • Those who deliver goods, services or passengers
  • Those who exchange money with the public

This group includes taxi drivers, retail workers, letter carriers, community workers, social service workers and health care, just to mention a few.

How can employers protect their employees from workplace violence?

GuardsEvent 300x176 How To Deal With Workplace Violence

It is the responsibility of every employer to offer a policy that is zero-tolerance towards workplace violence. Also, a company should help each employee understand that any act of violence in a workplace is subject to dire consequences and subject to investigation. An employer is required to institute a workplace violence prevention policy/program and have it documented in an existing handbook for employees.

Other ways to protect employees against workplace violence

  • Emphasize respectful and humane treatment of all employees and pay more attention to those who are terminated
  • Install new security procedures after employees are fired
  • Ensure that you preserve an employee’s dignity if you need to fire them and do so with sensitivity
  • Develop an environment in the workplace that fosters trust among existing management and employees
  • Avail a list of phone numbers in case of emergencies for local police and ambulance
  • Ensure that every reported threat is taken seriously and should be investigated thoroughly
  • Identify employees who are at high risk of workplace violence and establish procedures to control access to them
  • Use a screening system where appropriate
  • Check if you need to apply more stringent security measures
  • Hire a professional company who will take care of building security in Montreal
  • Review your hiring and recruiting procedures and institute background check where permitted
  • Accept the fact that workplace violence can take place in your workplace and be prepared

How to create a workplace violence policy

To prevent violence in the workplace, you should have a well written policy that explains in simple terms the company’s stance on any form of violence in the workplace. An employer has the option to draft several policies that address workplace violence and fighting or have separate policy covering those kinds of situations. When addressing the issue of violence or fighting, ensure that disciplinary procedures are well communicated so that employees understand what will happen if they violate policy. An example of a statement addressing conduct that is specifically prohibited in a workplace should include behaviours such as:

  • Violation of safety rules
  • Harassment
  • Insubordination
  • Drunkenness
  • Possession or use of illegal drugs
  • Excessive tardiness or absenteeism
  • Sleeping on the job
  • Fighting
  • Sleeping

Bottom line

Before workplace violence can take place, sometimes there are warnings that employers need to take seriously. Always be on the lookout for employee behaviours that may be warnings like:

  • Posting or talking about violent incidents in another workplace
  • Recent acquisition of a weapon
  • Paranoid behaviour
  • Depressed behaviour

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