Steps to Prevent Violence on the Job
The Illinois Department of Labor and OSHA highlight ways to address violence issues in the workplace.
- By Shereen Hashem
- Jul 29, 2021
Americans face workplace violence each and every year. According to a press release, the first step in preventing workplace violence is realizing and recognizing signs of stress. The second step is to make sure workers have a plan in place to respond to violence if it occurs in the workplace. OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the workplace.”
“Protecting employees on the job goes beyond worksite hazards. Unfortunately, this includes protection from violence and other outside threats,” said Illinois Department of Labor Director Michael Kleinik.
Healthcare is among the most common fields for workplace violence, followed by service providers, such as delivery drivers, school employees and retail workers. OSHA classifies workplace violence into four categories: criminal intent, customer-client, worker-on-worker and personal relationship. Regardless of the type of job, workplace violence is now one of the leading causes of workplace deaths.
“There are steps that should be taken to keep employees informed and aware of the warning signs to look for in the workplace. Employers should also implement a violence prevention program,” said Illinois OSHA Division Manager Brandy Lozosky.
According to OSHA, establishing a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence is the best protection an employer can offer. In the press release, these are the other precautions that should be taken:
• Provide safety education for employees so they know what conduct is not acceptable, what to do if they witness or experience such conduct and how to protect themselves.
• Secure the workplace. Surveillance cameras, proper lighting, key or badge entry and guards can all help alleviate possible violence at work.
• Encourage employees to alert supervisors to any concerns they have about coworkers’ erratic or potentially dangerous behavior, as well as any other safety issue they believe could lead to violence at work.
• Provide for a buddy system or escort service for employees who need it in potentially dangerous situations or at night.
Employee safety is the main reason to take these precautions. However, workplace violence poses an economic hindrance. The Department of Justice and National Institute for OSHA estimates victims of workplace violence miss 1.8 million work days every year, estimating around $121 billion. For more information, click here.
Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.