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How to defend against workplace violence

In any organisation, the safety of employers and employees should be at the forefront. Ensuring nobody is at risk of physical harm or harassment is extremely important and should precautions not be taken, an entire business will be placed into dangerous territory.

It is an employer's duty, therefore, to protect their company from threat, be it in the form of physical violence or a data security breach. While there are many technological devices that businesses utilise to minimise the risk of the latter, many do not know how to effectively implement a strategy that helps to defend against workplace violence.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, violence has been a leading cause of workplace deaths in the last 15 years. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines violence to include intimidating and threatening conduct. It is recommended that every employer provides a workplace that is “free from recognised hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm”.

Here are a few things that should be considered:

Conduct a physical security assessment

All areas inside and around a workplace should be examined to see if they pose any risks of violence. This includes all public and restricted areas, such as the physical layout of the workplace, the car park and any routes that employees may take to dispose of waste or recycling.

Think of ways that these areas can be made safer, reviewing the measures that other companies in the same vicinity have put in place and deciding whether these will work for you. 

Implement engineering and administrative controls

After conducting the hazard assessment, put a series of measures in place that will work to protect employees. For example, better lighting in dimly lit areas, installing more CCTV cameras, recruiting more security guards to man the entrances and exits, require visitors to sign in and wear badges.

Develop a workplace violence policy

Workplace violence is a broad term and can mean a number of different things to various organisations. Therefore, it is a good idea to define what workplace violence means in your company. Does it include physical attacks? Or verbal threats and insults?

Outline the definition in a policy statement that is accessible by employees. The statement should also include the outcomes and consequences for any violations, such as disciplinary actions or law enforcement.

Make sure it is clear to your employees that they should report any forms of violence, ensuring you implement a procedure for thorough investigation. Employees should also be encouraged to make a written record of any incidents, so they can be properly assessed.

Train employees

Employees should receive training around workplace violence so they fully understand the rules and consequences. They should also be made aware of the measures that have been put in place and be able to recognise all physical security professionals working in or around the building.


Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of iStock

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