How a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy Can Help Your Small to Mid-Sized Business

Director bullying his young attractive employee in the office-1High-profile shootings, like last month’s incident at YouTube’s headquarters, dominate the news, but workplace violence is much more common than most people realize. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates nearly two million U.S. workers are victims of workplace violence every year. According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Census, homicide accounted for 10 percent of all fatal workplace injuries in 2016. And an FBI study conducted over a 13-year period, found businesses were the setting for nearly half of 160 active-shooter incidents.

Disgruntled employees can often be perpetrators of workplace shootings.

What is Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence can take many forms including homicide, assault, stalking, threatening words, threatening conduct and harassment. It results in a decline in employee morale, management inefficiencies and decreased productivity. Employers also bear the burden of workplace violence because its consequences include significant costs in lost wages, employee absences and increased benefit payments.

How a Policy Can Help

Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace and must prevent workplace violence to protect their employees and avoid liability. A well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention policy — combined with engineering controls, administrative controls and training — can reduce the incidence of workplace violence. This policy can stand on its own or be incorporated into an injury and illness prevention program, employee handbook or operations manual.

The goals of any workplace violence prevention policy are two-fold:

  • Reduce the probability of threats or acts of violence in the workplace.
  • Ensure that any incident, complaint, or report of violence is immediately addressed and properly managed.

4 Employer Best Practices for a Harassment-free Workplace

What to Include in a Prevention Policy

The primary components of a workplace violence prevention policy include clearly defined reporting and response procedures, a workplace security risk evaluation, prevention tools, mandatory training and other necessary support services. Employers must inform employees of the requirements of applicable state and federal law, the risk factors in their workplace and the location of the written workplace violence prevention program.

It’s important all workers are informed of the policy and understand management strives to keep all employees safe in the workplace and will take all concerns seriously. Failing to create a safe and respectful environment puts small and mid-sized companies at risk for damage to the organization's reputation and the sizable costs for a lawsuit. Protect yourself and your business.

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  • The costs of harassment on the workplace environment and the financial costs.
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Jeanette Coleman

Written by Jeanette Coleman