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How to Protect Yourself From Workplace Violence

by Casey Kennedy

The U.S. Department of Labor defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening behavior that occurs at the work site. It states that each year nearly 2 million American workers have reported that they were victims of violence in the workplace, and that there are three kinds of workplace violence. It can involve customers or visitors to the site; it can involve employees' spouses or family members; and it can be between workers. When it comes to trouble involving coworkers or between staff and management, you can do to protect you and your employees before it happens.

Learn the Warning Signs

Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice reports that prior to a person becoming violent in the workplace, he will usually show warning signs. As an example, an employee might start commenting that he being treated unfairly or that has waited too long for a raise or promotion. The person may begin to show odd and irrational behavior. Or, he may become withdrawn, prefer to be alone and stop speaking to others as he used to. Employees who have a past or present history of drug or alcohol abuse are also more likely to be prone to violent outbursts in the workplace.

Communicate

Violence in the workplace sometimes occurs when a meeting goes badly between an employee and a supervisor. Allow employees who have grievances to discuss them with management without the fear of repercussion. Keep in close contact with employees. Not only will this make them feel that they are a valued part of the team, but you might pick up on the fact that something is going wrong, either at work or at home.

Be Proactive

Although there is no way to prevent every type of workplace violence, putting measures into place ahead of time often helps to reduce violence between employees. Provide employees with a written policy statement that is plain and simple to read. It should inform employees that workplace violence will not be tolerated and what measures you will take if it occurs. Make employees aware of what the company considers workplace violence and what it does not. Train employees so that they know what to do if violence occurs.

Prepare Ahead of Time

If you feel that the threat of violence is escalating, you may find that you have to talk to an employee about his behavior. When scheduling the meeting with the employee, do not inform him ahead of time so he doesn't have time to react and plan. If you are giving an evaluation, make a point to balance between the good and bad things that you say about him. When delivering bad news, such as the employee is being terminated or he is being passed over for promotion, have someone else in the room and alert security prior to the meeting. Since things may get heated on both side, keep your voice calm and do not argue.

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