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How to Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence

Violence in the workplace was virtually unheard of until the 1970s but today, it is a national epidemic that affects everyone involved both physically and psychologically, and often, long term. Workplace violence as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the workplace. OSHA estimates that nearly two million U.S. workers report being victims to workplace violence every year. Workplace Violence takes many forms, including homicide, assault, stalking and bullying. Because this growing issue not only has a profound effect on employee morale, company reputation and overall productivity but also leaves employers to bear the burden of lost wages due to employee absences and increased benefit payments, damage repairs, liability lawsuits and higher insurance rates, employers need to be as prepared as possible.

Taking a proactive approach in implementing procedures that address potential incidents allows employees a work environment that provides protection from harassment, threats and violence. There are many ways to implement safety measures in the workplace that can help to eliminate the risk of workplace violence—ranging from criminal record checks, substance abuse testing, reference checks, secure entrances, security assessments and employee training. The most important, however, is having an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Since these incidents are nearly impossible to predict, the primary components should educate your staff on the early warning signs of potential violence as well as how to respond when a situation does arise. Your plan might also include internal and external communication procedures, exit routes, evacuation plans, training drill procedures and a media relations plan.

 

Some additional protections that align with an Emergency Preparedness Plan:

 

  • Identifying your organizations strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement
  • Assigning key personnel to act as emergency coordinators
  • Creating Emergency Safety Kits
  • Conducting drills on a regular basis

As a nonprofit leader, it’s your responsibility to provide a workplace free from harassment and bullying. Providing open and safe communication channels for discussing suspicious behavior, concerns and problems will go a long way in helping to prevent the unthinkable. Your main goal should be to reduce the probability of risk and ensure that any complaints that fall under the OSHA definition of workplace violence are handled promptly.

 

For more information how to handle this growing epidemic, sign your nonprofit up for a free 30-day trial to ThinkHR, powered by UST HR Workplace.

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