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Workplace Violence: Safety in the Workplace

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Manage workplace violence before it occurs with education, mediation, and security.

Pro-active management can often deter workplace violence and security concerns should be at the top of the management of any brick and mortar business. Late night retail is particularly vulnerable, and owners or managers should be especially alert.

Bureau of Labor statistics for 2005 showed 564 homicides in the workplace, the fourth leading cause of fatal workplace injury that year.

Occupational Health and Safety requires that the employer furnish a workplace "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

Violence in the workplace cannot be predicted, but may sometimes be prevented, and it is the employer's obligation to manage workplace violence.

Make sure that any business office or place where employees work has security. This includes cameras, alarms, and possibly guards. Even churches have workplace violence, and it must be controlled.

Retail establishments should never have just one person at work. A minimum of two employees should cover any shift, particularly for late night retail.

Perform background checks on all employees. No exceptions.

In some states, there is a legal obligation for employers to perform background checks.

  1. Check for a criminal record,
  2. driving record,
  3. and lawsuits filed by or against the person.
  4. Get information from high school and college,
  5. and check the information provided on the resume.

If you have a liar, it is best to know before hiring.

Educate managers and those in charge to watch for outbursts and personality conflicts between employees, and discuss these with the parties involved. Do not allow this to escalate on the job or after hours.

Watch for signs of alcohol and drug abuse, and give employees time off for any workplace use of any illegal drug or alcohol.

Have monitors or supervisors who are in touch with the personal difficulties of the employees, and assist wherever possible to make the workplace friendly and understanding to individual needs.

When an employee is discharged for any reason, change the door, alarm and computer codes immediately. If your doors take a key to open, you may need to change your locks to a more secure system. If the person has access to sensitive computer information, change his or her password and lock him out of the computer system. Serious damage can be done to the databases.

Many times, workplace violence is caused by the return of a dismissed employee.

This can and should be prevented, and each employee should have an exit interview so that he understands the rules. Require that he telephone in advance and get supervisor approval to enter the workplace to pick up a check, visit with employees, or obtain information. Have the dismissed employees sign that they understand the policy during the exit interview.

Manage workplace violence pro-actively so the employees are as safe as possible. This is a duty of employers, and they need to step up and take care of potential workplace violence.