Workplace violence is not limited to a company’s current or former employees; it may be perpetrated by customers, family members or even strangers fixated on making a statement.
For employers, it's critical to ensure that all employees know the company's safety and violence prevention policies and procedures. In addition, companies can offer additional protections:
Verify information on all new hires through reference checking.
- Screen applicants by conducting background checks. Condition offers of employment upon the completion of background checks, drug tests or medical exams.
- Review workers’ compensation records and illness claims to identify patterns of assault or other workplace violence. Understand industry trends and specific job exposures.
- Have a clear, written policy protecting employees from harassment, threats and intimidation. Policies should note that any complaints of harassment or threats will be investigated fully and appropriate steps taken, including discipline and discharge.
- Establish a complaint/grievance procedure.
- Establish/communicate how to access employee assistance program (EAP) services.
- Offer outplacement counseling to employees being laid off or terminated.
- Consider implementing the following security measures: monitoring systems, limited access key cards, employee identification cards, emergency warning systems, security guards, visitor sign-in policies, security escorts in case of emergencies.
Develop a crisis plan that outlines how to report incidents of workplace violence, instructions on who to notify and:
- How to assess the situation, get help, warn other employees and secure the workplace.
- When and how to involve the police and gather information to assist an investigation.
- Follow-up activities like debriefing employees, resuming operations and long-term planning.
Employee safety and risk consultants can assist companies in these and many other ways to promote and maintain safer work environments.