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Preventing Workplace Violence

Workplace violence can occur at any time and is a major concern for both employers and employees. Every employee has a right to feel safe at work, and while it can be difficult to control all aspects of an active worksite, employers can take specific measures to reduce the risk of violence at their worksites.

Violence in the workplace can take different forms, but the most common are harassment, intimidation, damage to personal property, or the threat of physical injury from one person to another.[1] It can affect employees, company reputation, and even clients or customers.  Nearly in the United States reported being victims of workplace violence in some form or other and one in seven employees feel unsafe at work.[2] Increased awareness and education is key to reducing these incidents and creating a secure place of work. With the right tools and trainings in place, employers can maintain a safe working environment and a well-educated workforce that knows what steps to take to prevent and address the situation in the event violence in the workplace occurs.[3]

Do you have a Workplace Violence Protection Program?

To prevent workplace violence, employers should take a zero-tolerance approach. This should not only cover the workers, but also anyone who may come into contact with company employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends developing a workplace violence prevention program to outline a company’s policies and procedures around workplace violence. The first step is to identify where the risk factors are in the workplace. After assessing the workplace, employers can tailor their plan to reduce and prevent violence in their specific working environment. Once the program is in place, employees must be trained on appropriate workplace conduct and what actions to take if workplace violence is witnessed.

A well-written plan, combined with engineering and administrative controls and employee training, can reduce the likelihood of violence occurring in the workplace. This program can be a stand-alone plan, a section in the workplace safety manual, or even part of the employee handbook. Wherever it is incorporated, employers must clearly communicate the policies to all workers in order for the program to be effective.

If you’re looking to implement a workplace violence prevention program, update a current plan, or are seeking guidance on how to train/implement your plan with your employees, please reach out to Harbor America. Our human resource management specialists can advise on best practices, tools and resources, and HR support to customize a workplace violence prevention program best suited for your industry and work environment.


OSHA Workplace Violence
SHRM Workplace Violence

[1] OSHA Workplace Violence
[2][3]SHRM Workplace Violence

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