It’s scary to think about how dangerous the workplace can be for employees. Environmental hazards are possible, from dangerous gases to spilled liquids that cause slippery floors. Workers can get hurt using their tools and equipment. But there’s also the threat of violence from other people, and preventing workplace violence is something that all employers must think about.
Here are some of the more common types of violence that may occur, and how employers can prevent them.
Assault by Criminals
This is when strangers come in and rob the place, and in the process hurt people. The stereotypical example of this is robbers holding up a bank and maybe even shooting cashiers along the way. The typical targets are cash-rich workplaces that have late working hours or that have money in supply, like banks and pawnshops.
The basic way of stopping this threat is to employ security guards and to close the place during the late hours. Sometimes even bulletproof glass is put up.
Dangerous Customers and Clients
You may probably think right away about unpleasant customers whose complaints can turn violent when they’re unappeased. But actually, the most likely victims of customer violence are social service and healthcare workers. The threat of customer violence accounts for the majority of nonfatal workplace violence incidents. This type of threat also accounts for about 20% of all workplace homicides.
To reduce the threat of this type of violence, it helps if workers aren’t sent off alone to deal with any customer. Having another worker helps to discourage a customer from becoming violent. If the customer does turn violent, another worker can help overcome or escape the violent customer.
Worker to Worker Violence
It’s not surprising that when you combine factors such as limited space and tension, you may have violence in the workplace when workers assault one another. One common example is cases of managers assaulted by employees they have reprimanded. Sometimes workers have conflicts and tensions with each other, and this can escalate into violence.
Preventing this may involve training managers to identify conflicts between individuals in the workplace and to address them peacefully before they escalate. There should also be a clear policy that violence in the workplace will not be tolerated. Managers must also be trained to treat everyone with respect, including the workers they’re reprimanding or criticizing.
This is when the worker’s domestic partner assaults the worker in the workplace. It occurs more often than many people would think, as domestic assault doesn’t just happen in the home. It happens in the workplace because the partner knows where it is and where the worker will be at certain hours.
This problem usually happens when a worker (usually a woman) tries to separate or divorce their partner. If that partner is known to be violent, the worker should alert the manager about the possible threat that the partner poses. Measures must be set up to prevent any dangerous people from getting into the workplace. The threatened worker should also avoid being alone at any time in the workplace (such as in a deserted parking space).
This is a subset of terrorism when a business is targeted by people who disagree with what the business represents. Once stereotypical example is a case of animal rights activists breaking into a pet store or a medical laboratory late at night and attacking people they encounter.
The same security measures against criminals are needed against this type of violence. That’s because ideological criminals are still criminals even though they’re not motivated by money.