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Green World Group | 2nd Dec 2017

Preventing workplace violence and creating safe and healthy environment

Occupational violence can happen at workplace anytime and the reasons can’t be predicted and hence prevented beforehand. As human behaviors are highly unpredictable, in a workplace where different people have different levels of temperaments where even a small misunderstanding can flare-up to a full blown violence between individuals or groups.

According to statistics, of the total occupational related fatalities reported in a year, over 9% accounts for homicides caused due to workplace violence. Skirmishes can happen between workers, but it should be controlled and managed by competent workplace managers so that it will

  • Not lead to uncontrollable situations causing loss of properties
  • Injuries
  • Downtime
  • Loss of reputation
  • and production loss.

Workplace violence is the violence against workers, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Violence, which can happen within or outside the workplace, can be classified into simple threats and verbal duel to physical fights and homicides. With right tools and training, such violent behaviors can be controlled and contained.

As any workplace environment is prone to violence among people, safety in-charge should never be complacent. There should be proper risk assessment exercises conducted regularly by the management representatives considering all possible parameters to prevent or control violent behaviours among workforce.

It is the responsibility of the workplace safety managers to keep a personal record of individual employees, their background, family, and other details such as financial issues, personal tragedy, from which one can deduce that whether a worker can become upset and turn violent even with a small provocation. Any behavioural change among workers should be observed and if need be, psychologists or counselors should be engaged to smoothen the nerves.

Impacts of workplace violence

Apart from the obvious impact the workplace violence has on victims, business implications are disastrous. Violent incidents can even destabilize the business as companies have to shell out more on

  • Enhancing security to workers
  • Compensation to victims
  • Loss of skilled workers
  • Loss of downtime
  • Property damages
  • Legal cost
  • Loss of reputations among clients and psychological harm.

So what can be done to reduce risk?

Companies need to have workplace violence program which should include business policies and procedures, dos and don’ts, code of conduct and designated protocols. In the case of unpredictable incidents, workplace managers should apply a reaction and evacuation system and conduct regular drills. Companies should also spell out their zero-tolerance policies to workers on violent and un-social behaviors, what is expected from them and consequences of such behaviours.

Immediate supervisors should watch for sudden irritability and poor response from subordinates. Information about suspicious and dangerous behaviors should be shared through designated people so that such incidents can be probed further and employees concerned shall be rehabilitated..

To prevent violent outbursts at workplaces, the management can offer counseling services to stressed or overworked employees so that they would openly discuss their problems for a possible solution.

It is also better to create a positive and pleasant work environment which can go a long way in preventing workplace violence.

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