Violence in the workplace

Employees work environment needs to be taken into consideration. There should be enough lighting to ensure safety at entrances, in waiting rooms, restrooms and in hallways. Other protective measures would be to install video cameras, alarm systems and the use of coded security locks on doors to keep the public out of staff areas.

For staff that works behind a counter such as a bank, having wider counters and raised floors on the staff side gives them more protection. For organizations that deal with monetary transactions, the use of checks, credit cards or tokens can make robbery less attractive.

Cash deposits should be done more frequently and different routes should be taken to reduce the risk of robbery. Employees should be given the opportunity to give their input of what changes to their work environment would make them fell safer. Employees are more likely to be committed to the measures if they help design them and put them into place. Once the HR Director as an over all view of the risks and preventive measures, the next stage is to compile this information into a written procedure.

Stage three is a very important because by having a policy statement available to all employees will make them more aware of what to do for future incidents. The final and fourth stage is to follow up on a regular basis to see how well the safety measures are working. The HR Director should consider setting up joint meetings with management and a safety representative to make sure the current procedures and safety measures are working. If they find that violence is still a problem then stages 1 and 2 should be reevaluated to identify what did not work and to find new preventive measures that will work.

When dealing with a violent incident the HR Director needs to respond as quickly as possible to avoid any long-term distress to employees. A support plan should be set up to help victims deal with the emotional stress. The HR Director or other members of Human Resources should be available for the victims to talk about their experience. Since people react differently, they may need time off to recover or seek counseling. Also, the Human Resource Director needs to consider helping other employees deal with a violent incident and help them understand what happened and how to react appropriately.

It is unfortunate that prior to 9/11 workplace violence fell through the cracks because OSHA did not require employers to address it. The employer has both a moral and legal responsibility to protect workers from any anticipated hazard, whether or not there is a specific regulation addressing that hazard.

Every employer should rush to defend their employees against violence and to instill in them a feeling of security in their work environment. With proper planning and effective programs, the HR Director can drastically reduce incidents of workplace violence.