The statistics on violence in the workplace in the United States present a grim picture. Every year, two million workers are victims of violence in the workplace. 12 percent of all worker fatalities in 2019 were the result of workplace violence. Both in the United States in general and specifically in the construction business, there is a problem with workplace violence. It is challenging to have a conversation about it. Nobody likes to accept the possibility that it may take place for them. However, if we don’t make any preparations for it, we won’t know how to react when it happens. This article provides an overview of what workplace violence is, how employers may prepare for it, and looks at tactics that workers use to prevent themselves and others from being victims of workplace violence.
There is a wide range of activities that fall under the category of workplace violence, from verbal harassment to physical assault. Harassment, physical aggression, intimidation, bullying, and sexual harassment are all examples of actions that fall under this category. Employees who experience physical or mental harm because of workplace violence are more likely to call out sick, produce less goods, and have poorer morale overall. The possibility of violence in the workplace is a safety issue that is present in every workplace, and as such, employers have a responsibility to handle it.
Shawn Carter, a former police officer who now works as a security consultant, identifies the following five causes of violence in the workplace:
- Criminals coming on-site to conduct a crime
- Consumers or customers that are upset
- Employees bullying and intimidating one another
- Instances of domestic abuse that take place at the place of employment of the victim
Ideologically motivated attacks on certain enterprises can come from either individuals or small organisations. According to Carter, who has worked as a police officer in Oregon for the past 15 years, the majority of violent incidents that occur in the workplace fall into one of these categories.
Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from both known and unknown dangers in the workplace, even while not all incidents of workplace violence are able to be avoided. The first thing that your firm must do is acknowledge that violence in the workplace is an issue that needs to be addressed. When it’s already too late, far too many companies fail to recognize the possibility that workplace violence may have an impact on their business.
It is the responsibility of those in positions of leadership to communicate that this is an important matter and that we must address this issue seriously. The next step is to put time, money, and other resources into addressing the problem. Additionally, it functions similarly to a reliable insurance policy. You’re going to put money away in the hopes that you’ll never have to touch it. However, after you have done so, it will not only save lives, but it will also save money. However, this assumes that your starting point is the concept that there is a problem with workplace violence in the United States. As owners of the company or members of management at the executive level, it is your duty to find a solution to the issue.
The following are six measures that employers may do to assist in the prevention of violence in the workplace:
- Discuss it in detail.
- Make training available.
- Carry out location evaluations.
- Test workers
- Cultivate a good culture
- Provide initiatives designed to support employees (EAPs)
- Discuss the Matter
The first step for employers should be to have a conversation about violence in the workplace. And I’m sure they bring it up in conversation on a regular basis. When it comes to addressing issues of violence in the workplace, it is not sufficient to simply distribute a leaflet or have a brief discussion. It needs to be a torrent of knowledge that comes out in a practical, relevant, and even fun way for employees to be able to remember it. Only then can it be considered effective. You need to make sure that the information you present is pertinent to both the audience and the position that they have in the firm. It is inappropriate to discuss the working conditions at a job site with employees in the office. Ensure that the information can be understood by everyone and be sure to reiterate it. When it comes to the ability to retain knowledge in tense situations, according to Carter, we always refer to the most recent instruction we have. When employees are required to remember more information, their ability to respond to emergencies will improve.
Before a tense scenario escalates into a violent one, there should be training provided to all staff on how to diffuse potentially explosive situations. Both supervisors and general staff can benefit from taking classes in conflict resolution, emotional management, and verbal judo, which will help them respond more effectively during tense talks. They educate workers on how to diffuse potentially dangerous situations and cope with intense feelings, with the goal of averting potentially violent incidents before they occur. Employees can also benefit from training in how to cope with physical aggression, such as lessons in self-defense or other tactics that help them avoid or escape violent situations. This training can help employees feel more empowered and can assist them in feeling safer while they are at work.
Carter suggests doing a comprehensive site evaluation at each place of employment, including the home office. As part of the evaluation, make a note of the location’s exits and entrances, as well as the best hiding spots, the nearest medical facilities, and any other pertinent information. It’s possible that these are insignificant things that we overlook on a regular basis, but when things become hectic, it’s easy for knowledge to slip our minds.
However, simply collecting the information is not enough. Everyone who works at the location must have access to the results, so that they may retrieve the information whenever they require it. Because if someone entered the building with the intention of causing harm to workers at the site, everything about their day might change in an instant. At that time, it is necessary for them to be aware of where they are as well as where they may go and who they can call. The more frequently you reiterate the knowledge, the more deeply it will be entrenched in their memory, increasing the likelihood that they will be able to recall it even while they are during an event.
Training or having a conversation about how to respond in the event of an incident is not enough. Conduct regular tests on your staff to ensure that they can recollect the information being asked of them. This involves the practice of responding to emergency situations. During a crisis, adrenaline and other biological variables take control, and your mind will automatically go to the most recent information you’ve learned through training. And if you’ve never given any consideration to what you’ll do in this situation, you’re going to stutter, stammer, and completely break apart. Therefore, you are required to put into practice what you have been instructed and educated on on how to respond to workplace violence and how to avoid it.
Studies conducted throughout history have shown that workers do not remain in their jobs for the money and perks they get. Money and perks take a back seat to other considerations. And a significant number of such aspects are related to cultural norms. And with a culture that promotes a sense of being safe. The unspoken norms of appropriate behavior that are expected of employees are what make up a company’s culture. Are people adhering to the regulations that were discussed during the orientation? Are there repercussions to be faced for unfavorable behavior? Or is it just a waste of breath to talk about things like health and safety all the time?
If a company has a culture in which violence is not taken seriously and in which management questions the necessity of purchasing insurance when they haven’t been in an accident, then all the time, money, and resources that are being put into preventing workplace violence are ultimately going to be wasted. The upper management must understand the significance of this investment to foster a business culture that places a premium on the elimination of hostile work environments and sexual harassment. When the culture is in the appropriate place, all that is required of you is to establish the expectation, and after that, you may include new workers into the living organism that is the culture that you have developed. And that organism is capable of self-regulation. It gets caught up with each other.
Employee assistance programs offer aid to workers who are dealing with mental, emotional, or other problems that may be affecting their performance at work. These problems may include numerous programs provide a variety of advantages, including but not limited to legal support, nutritionists, mental health services, and addiction treatment. Employers may continue to develop a culture that cares about workers and helps to avoid workplace violence by aiding employees in dealing with the challenges they face in their personal lives as well as in the workplace. EAPs will not assist in resolving issues involving consumers or with criminals who are focused on wreaking damage. On the other hand, they can be of assistance in cases of employee aggression and domestic violence.
Employees who have received training in conflict resolution, de-escalation, emotional control, and verbal judo are more equipped to deal with verbal attacks and harassment than those who have not received such training. With the application of these strategies, many verbal conflicts may be resolved by coworkers or by the parties involved directly. Managing disagreements before they escalate into violence is an effective way to reduce the risk of personal injury and damage to commercial property. There are three responses that are recommended for dealing with a situation involving physical violence or an active shooter: running, hiding, or fighting. Employees ought to receive training on where they might hide safely, how and when to fight back if necessary, and possible escape routes in the event of a dangerous situation. Classes in self-defense and other forms of training can help make this information more accessible while dealing with high levels of stress.
Exercising these abilities on a regular basis is essential if one wants to have access to them in times of high anxiety and stress. Regularly asking staff members about their coping mechanisms in high-pressure circumstances is good practice for managers. Jobsite superintendents can initiate exercises to rehearse how to respond to guests who are either physically or verbally abusive. If you encourage your employees to reflect on the training they’ve received, it will make the information they’ve learned more accessible to them if they need it.
Violence in the workplace can take many forms, including verbal harassment, bullying, and even sexual harassment, in addition to physical altercations. A workplace culture that helps prevent future acts of violence may be fostered by having open conversations about these problems and providing employees with training on how to cope with them. Employers can establish a safe working environment for their employees by communicating with them about safety, providing training, doing site evaluations, practicing the necessary skills, building a culture of safety, and providing employee assistance programs. If violence breaks out, staff will be equipped with the resources necessary to de-escalate the situation, flee, seek refuge, or fight back.