CNN states that each year, around 700 people are murdered in their workplace. Between the years 1992 and 2012, 14,770 cases of workplace violence were reported all of which were homicide victims. These statistics are a horrible reminder that violence in the workplace is a very real possibility and a tragic situation.
Many cases of workplace violence have resulted in fatalities; however, nonfatal cases are more common. CNN states that in 2009, 572,000 cases of nonfatal crimes were committed at work. Overall, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration estimates that there are about 2 million cases of workplace violence a year; varying between verbal and physical abuse to homicides.
Workplace violence is a rare situation but can easily be prevented by taking certain measures that ensure your workplace will be non-violent. Below, are ten ways to prevent workplace violence in your facility:
The first step in managing the risk of work-related violence is to find out the exact nature of the problem. Anecdotal evidence may suggest a problem, but its scale and nature may not be clear.
The extent of the problem can be investigated by:
- Collecting and analyzing incident reports.
- Interviewing staff (formally or informally).
- Staff surveys.
It will then be possible to identify and implement the correct preventive measures, which will be different depending on the nature of the workplace and of the work. In general, two distinct strategies can be adopted:
Preventing violence at a central office:
- Zero-tolerance policy and prosecution of offenders.
- Security staff.
- CCTV cameras.
- Security doors between public areas and staff areas.
- Minimizing queues and waiting times.
- Clear announcements about waiting times.
- Training for staff, e.g. providing a good-quality service, defusing aggression, etc.
- Screens between staff and public.
- Panic alarms.
- Creating a pleasant environment.
Preventing violence to workers conducting home visits:
- No lone working (or no lone working in certain high-risk areas).
- Keeping records of past incidents and vetting customers.
- Visit-logging with a supervisor.
- Pre- and post-visit telephone calls.
- Training for staff, e.g. lone-working procedures, break-away techniques (self-defence), etc.
- Always having a means of communication (e.g. mobile phone).
- No visits after dark.
- Parking in secure areas.
- Not carrying cash or valuables.