A year of turbulence, caution, and weariness is 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 involving nationwide protests, rallies, looting and social media opinions running rampant.
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.