April Safety Training: Workplace Violence
Workplace violence affects all types of organizations: large and small businesses, educational institutions, healthcare facilities and government groups. According to OSHA, workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” That definition encompasses everything from verbal threats to physical assaults and homicide.
Because workplace violence is such a common problem, it’s essential for employers to take steps to protect their employees. An effective workplace violence preparedness plan includes both practical measures (e.g., security systems and personnel) and safety training (e.g., threat identification and response).
Workplace violence statistics
According to the National Safety Council, workplace assaults are the fifth–leading cause of occupational deaths. Assaults, including shooting, stabbing, hitting, strangulation, sexual assault and verbal threats, caused over 20,000 workplace injuries and 392 fatalities in 2020. On average, an assault resulted in five days away from work. Over 20% of victims needed more than 30 days away from work to recover.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2020, there were 705 occupational fatalities due to violence or other injuries caused by people or animals. Of those fatalities, 651 were due to intentional injuries by a person.
Workplace violence can have a wide range of consequences. Property damage is common, especially from attacks involving arson, bombs, or physical violence. Attacks often reduce productivity, and they can impact reputation, especially when customers are present during the event.
Individuals who are involved in a violent event can sustain physical injuries, which may be severe enough to warrant emergency medical attention and short- or long-term disability leave. There are often psychological damages as well; individuals who are verbally or physically attacked may feel afraid and traumatized.
Training workers to respond to workplace violence
Education can help prevent workplace violence. A comprehensive training program should cover various aspects of workplace violence, from mitigation and prevention to response procedures.
- Warning signs: One of the most important aspects of safety training is helping employees recognize the warning signs of a potential attack. This may include mental health issues and/or evidence of physical distress.
- Reporting procedures: Provide clear instructions on reporting potential warning signs so employees know exactly who to contact if they see something dangerous. An anonymous tip-to-text option can help employees feel safe to report their concerns without worrying about reprisal.
- Response protocols: Give employees clear instructions on how to respond to different types of violence. For example, a bomb threat may require evacuation whereas a “run, hide, fight” response is typically recommended for an active shooter situation.
- Recovery steps: Create a recovery plan to return to normal operations. This may include offering counseling to affected workers, strengthening security measures or offering more remote work opportunities.
Some workplaces face a greater threat of workplace violence. OSHA provides guidelines for preventing workplace violence in healthcare institutions and late-night retail locations.
Protect employees from workplace violence
According to the Department of Labor, the best way to prevent workplace violence is to create a work environment that minimizes negative feelings and helps employees feel supported and cared for. Open and sincere communication is a vital part of a healthy work environment. Managers can help foster a safe work environment by actively monitoring their employees’ morale. Additionally, it’s vital to provide safe channels for employees to express concerns and report suspicious behavior.
Rave Mobile Safety offers a range of two-way communication tools that facilitate reliable, secure connections between employers and workers in all roles, including remote positions. Our critical communications solutions also feature multichannel mass notification capabilities and incident management tools. Mobile apps allow employees to send anonymous tips and quickly connect to 9-1-1 and internal security to report an emergency (e.g., an active shooter). To learn more about communication solutions from Rave, contact our team.