Workplace Safety

Confronted by Workplace Violence? Four Key Tips to Remember

Let’s say you have your workplace violence prevention plan in place, and you are conducting the training outlined in your plan. Part of the plan should include strategies for your workers to avoid harm. Here are four key tips to offer your workers should they be confronted with violence at your facility.

Tip 1. Recognize potential workplace violence incidents. All your workers should be trained to recognize signs and behaviors of violence in others, such as:

  • Angry outbursts;
  • Intimidating behavior toward one or more people;
  • Talk about weapons, especially if it seems obsessive;
  • Blaming others for their own problems; and
  • Holding grudges.

Your workers should also be aware of common employee issues that could trigger workplace violence, including:

  • Negative performance review;
  • Unwelcome change in role due to performance or reorganization issue;
  • Criticism of performance;
  • Conflict with a coworker or supervisor;
  • Personal stress outside the workplace; and
  • Increased workload or pressure, such as deadlines or specific projects.

Tip 2. Take it seriously. All your workers should be trained to take potential workplace violence threats seriously and take precautions. Key precautions your workers should be trained to take are:

  • Don’t let any unauthorized people into the facility.
  • Alert security about strangers or anyone else, such as a former employee, who should not be in the workplace. Do not confront these people yourself!
  • Tell your supervisor about any people you do not want to see at work.
  • Tell your supervisor if you are dealing with domestic violence.
  • Be familiar with all facility exits and note the one you would use if need be when you move around the facility.
  • Know your security guards and how to contact them if the need arises.
  • Let someone know if you are working overtime.
  • Try not to work alone.
  • Don’t leave your workplace alone, if at all possible.

Tip 3: Avoid confrontation. It is a good idea to have a warning signal that all your workers know in the event of a violent situation. Employees who are not specifically trained to deal with workplace violence should be told and trained to avoid and/or de-escalate a violent situation by:

  • Remaining calm;
  • Not arguing;
  • Not responding to threats;
  • Avoiding anything that would increase the person’s anger;
  • Screaming to alerting other people, if need be; and
  • Doing anything to avoid going somewhere with the violent person.

Tip 4. Report it. It is critical that all your workers take any work-related violence or threatening behavior seriously. They must report these incidents immediately before situations can get out of hand. In order for them to feel comfortable reporting a violent, or potentially violent incident, you must have a policy and procedures in place that are convenient for your workers and protect them from any possible retaliation.

Your policy should include that retaliation against a worker who makes a good-faith report of violence or other disruptive behavior is strictly prohibited and subject to appropriate corrective or disciplinary measures. In addition, workers should feel comfortable reporting violence or intimidating behavior to managers or supervisors other than his or her own in cases where the behavior is by his or her own supervisor.

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