Occupational violence is a scary subject. We spend a majority of our time at our job and being safe is something many take for granted. This isn’t to say that it is inevitable that a violent uprising will overtake your place of employment, but being prepared or aware of the potential is important.
According to OSHA, more than two million American workers are victims of some form of workplace violence ranging from verbal abuse, bullying, and more serious physical assaults. Workplace violence also doesn’t necessarily mean it has to occur at the workplace; conflicts between co-workers outside of the office also fall into the definition. So, how do we avoid or at least curb the potential threat? Below are three measures you can take to stave off the danger.
1. Read up on the policies and procedures.
Many employers have sections on workplace violence in their handbooks. These policies protect employees from liability and are almost always enforced without prejudice. If you are unsure of your company’s policy or procedures on handling occurrences, ask your supervisor or a representative of your HR department. Following these procedures can ensure your safety as well as that of your co-workers.
2. Be aware of your surroundings.
Look for signs of distress from your co-workers. If a co-worker seems to be struggling with their day-to-day life, makes threats or mentions getting back at their employer, or exhibits irregular behavior out of the ordinary, these could be signs of instability. If you are concerned for a co-worker, don’t attempt to console them, instead notify a supervisor in private of your concern.
3. Avoid danger.
If you’re placed in a situation with a hostile individual, don’t panic. Respect their personal space and don’t exhibit any body language or tone of voice that makes you seem like a threat. By placing obstacles between you and the person, and staying four to six feet away from a point of exit, you have the opportunity to flee if the circumstances require you to remove yourself from the situation. Never use physical force unless it is for defense against an assault. Once again, notify your supervisor if such an event occurs.
No one is immune to workplace violence, but a little bit of preparation and being aware of measures to prevent such occurrences just may protect you from harm in the event you are placed in an undesirable situation.