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Workplace Violence: Are You Prepared?

15 Apr

ViolenceAs a former manager of multiple office locations, one of my top concerns each and every day was the protection and security of employees stationed within the various offices.  Providing a safe environment for your employees is a daunting task and a stressful responsibility given the type of world we all live in today.  It’s not uncommon any longer to read or hear a news story about a shooting or a hostage situation at an office complex, factory or even a small business operation.  Times have definitely changed from the days when the greatest concern we had was ‘did the janitorial staff remember to lock the door when they finished cleaning last night?’  Today, violence in the workplace is a major concern for employers and employees nationwide and it ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assault.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly 2 million workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year and many other cases simply go unreported.

Whether you work in a large factory, a small office or from your own home, you must be aware of your surroundings at all times and prepared to deal with any situations that could quickly become violent.  Unfortunately, that means we must plan on the best way to protect our employees from those outside the organization, as well as, those who are working alongside them – other co-workers, managers, subordinates, etc.  There are an infinite number of scenarios that organizations can plan to react to, but there are also a few proactive measures that can be taken to reduce the possibility of workplace violence occuring within your organization.  Take a look at these areas of concern and consider how you can improve your work environment to make it more safe and secure for your employees and your customers:

Physical Access Points –  Limit public access to your facility via specific entry locations.  This will help control and implement security techniques that will monitor visitors to your company.  Also, consider monitoring and utilizing security techniques at any ’employee only’ entrances, as well.  It may appear to be an inconvenience to some, but safety is your top priority in this instance.

Emergency Plans – How will you react to a situation?  It’s better to have specific plans in place so that when some type of violence does occur, then you can take action immediately.  Whether you have electronic security devices installed or specific code words to identify potential issues, it’s important that you have a plan in place and that plan is communicated to your workforce.  Also, as part of your emergency plan, don’t forget to look at ways you should communicate to local authorities, employees, customers, affected families, media outlets and the general public in the case a violent event does impact your workplace.

Outside Security Points – Your responsbility for providing a safe environment begins as soon as employees and customers come onto your organization’s property.  Therefore, pay specific attention to parking lot areas, garages, common lobby areas, etc. when designing a security plan.  These locations must be monitored and maintained to effectively deter any violent situations.

Prevention Training – Your employees should be trained on how to best identify and prevent workplace violence issues.  They should be trained to increase their awareness of risks, to learn proper safety procedures, to know how to identify and report suspicious behavior, and to recognize and de-escalate potential violent situations.  This type of training should be an ongoing training cycle and not just a one-time event.

There are many, many resources online that deal with workplace violence and the information I’ve shared is only a small fraction of what needs to be considered when developing your plan regarding workplace violence.  Take time this week to assess your organization’s infrastructure and re-evaluate how you can better protect those that work with you.  Do you have any unique or innovative thoughts on how to prevent workplace violence?  Leave your thoughts and comments below…and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter – @CraigHolloman.

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