Acknowledging and Addressing Workplace Violence
Tuesday, September 6, 2016 12:06:39 PM

Workplace safety is one of the ‘not-to-be-missed-or-ignored’ parts of management that demands prevention. No doubt, a company’s basic HR policies should shed light on precluding workplace violence; however, early intervention goes a long way toward preventing any serious event. Therefore, it is necessary for organizations to institute a zero-tolerance policy with regard to workplace violence, as it will inform all employees about the consequences of any violent act. 

Safety professionals in an organization must address as well as acknowledge the workplace violence issue. Any organization—irrespective of its size, nature of work, geographic location, and work timing—may fall prey to violent incidents. Therefore, it is important to take prevention.

The outcomes of workplace violence can be destructive. If we go by the records of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, workplace violence claimed lives of 403 people in the US in 2014. In 2000, the figure stood at 677. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 2 million workers report cases pertaining to workplace violence each year, with many likely to go unreported.

According to federal as well as state job safety laws, employers are required to put in efforts to make their workplace safe. OSHA and some state agencies have given some guidelines pertaining to healthcare operations, employers in general, and night retail establishments. 

Basically, these guidelines are intended to assist employers in fighting violence. However, they can also raise OSHA citations’ prospect in case a problem is overlooked. Besides, employers may be held responsible for negligence in case they cannot exercise proper care in order to avert any potential violence. Violent behavior by employees can lead to liability for neglectful recruitment, training, supervision, and retention if their activities were foreseeable.

Besides, employers as well as business property owners may encounter potential liability for being unable to address the growing threat of violence coming from outside. It could be an assault at night, robberies in the crime-infested zone, and so on. Laws pertaining to Workers’ compensation shed light on only some types of injuries in the workplace because of violent actions, but not all types of injuries.

Laws pertaining to federal and state job discrimination make employers enforce harassment policies as well as take action promptly at the time of harassment. Racial, sexual, and other types of harassment can result in the liability for various sorts of damages, including punitive and compensatory. Further, there is a possibility that employers may be held liable by the federal law to various gender-centric violence.

When it comes to avoiding any sorts of workplace violence and recruiting efficient employees, various tools can be used by a recruiter. For example, they can check information pertaining to a candidate’s criminal history, credit reports, and job references. Besides, conducting various psychological tests and substance abuse testing yields benefits.

How to reduce all the hazards pertaining to workplace violence

If some risk factors in the workplace can be recognized, it is possible to prevent or minimize any risk of assault with appropriate precautions. A policy pertaining to zero-tolerance in the workplace is probably the best protection that employers can provide to their employees in order to minimize workplace violence. However, all employees, including full-time and part-time workers, clients, visitors, contracts, should fall under the ambit of this policy.

Besides, employers can find out the methods to lessen the likelihood of various adverse incidents by examining their worksites. According to OSHA, a well-drafted prevention program pertaining to workplace violence, together with administrative controls and proper training, can minimize various untoward incidents at the private sector as well as federal workplaces. And when it comes to high-risk areas or incidents, OSHA emphasizes the inclusion of additional policies and protective methods.