A year of turbulence, caution, and weariness is about how I would describe 2020 so far and its only June! If you are not dealing with employees coming or going related to COVID-19, your hearing unrest due to violence in the news about a murder causing racial riots, burning buildings and social media opinions running ramped. There is so much out there going on it is difficult to keep your employees engaged, focused on performing their job and safe in today’s environment. However, all those things are still our top concerns as managers and human resources professionals. This year has seemed to bring safety to the top of that list almost daily. So instead of talking about safety related to COVID specifically this month, I’d like to focus on a topic that is in large part a major concern for business in one of our bigger cities in America as I write this article and has the potential to spread as it has done before. That is the topic of Violence. Preventing Violence in the Workplace or at least managing it if something does break out in your workplace. I know I have personally experienced threatening violence involving guns and actual fist fights in the workplaces I have been in before, so it does happy in smaller towns too.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 5,147 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the US in 2017, 458 were cases of intentional injury by another person. About two million people each year report some type of workplace violence. It is estimated that 25% of cases goes unreported. The people the employer serves is the greatest threat. This cost employers 130 billion dollars a year. That is why we can never let our guard down. I have visited many county courthouses who have security and bag check but others who do not. This is one example of a corrective measure that is obvious. However, there are others that are not so obvious.
I know with COVID, many employers are heeding CDC advice and taking safety measures to keep employees and patrons safe by cleaning, putting up sneeze guards to keep everyone safe. Additional, corrective prevention measures could include the following:
- Establishment of a clear workplace violence policy
- Clear communication regarding protections for whistleblowers
- Encouragement for employees to report incidents of bullying, harassment, threats, & violence
- Develop, Implement, Communicate & Maintain Accountability for a Security program in the Workplace
- Train all employees on the proper security and safety responsibilities regarding this plan
- Affirm & hold management just as accountable to all the above as every other employee. Management above all should walk the talk for any new initiative to work.
OSHA did come out and say that all known COVID-19 cases that occur because of contracting the virus at work is a recordable incident on the Form 300. The Safety Coordinator who typically handles these forms can establish a safety committee who can assist with a violence in the workplace strategy as outlined above since all these responsibilities relate to each other. That safety committee can conduct a workplace analysis and keep records to determine where the biggest areas of concern are and creatively come up with ways to counter the problems. Getting employees involved at all levels is another key to getting total buy in to a program like this.
So whether its an employee or a resident getting worked up about the riots, how the employer is handling COVID, or they are just having a bad day, you should have a plan to deal with it safely!
There are many motto’s the organization can adopt. For example: See Something Say Something (4s) or Run, Hide, Fight, but do something!