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Preventing the Danger and Liability of Workplace Violence

Aug 17, 2007
Each week, roughly 17 people are murdered while on the job and 33,000 more are assaulted. This adds up to big liability for companies, not to mention tremendous heartache and pain. This high level of violence stems from on-the-job stress and increasing economic pressure. Your due diligence as an employer will not only protect the employees you value so much, but pay off in court should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to defend your business practices in a case of negligence. Here you'll find some brief guidelines for identifying risk factors and preventing workplace violence.

Risk Factor: High stress work environments
Stressful environments alone are a risk factor for workplace violence. According to a survey by Northwestern National Life, 25% of employees view their jobs as the primary source of stress in their lives. When people feel trapped under pressure, they are more likely to react violently.

Prevention: Stress related violence tends to have quite a few warning signs. It's critical to incorporate administrative processes and policies that allow employees to comfortably and anonymously report threats or aggressive behavior by other associates. Specific processes should be in place to track threats and assess their level of risk based on statistically proven guidelines.

Risk Factor: Jobs that involve the exchange of money
Any employee who exchanges money with the public is at a higher risk for workplace violence. Desperate and criminally-minded individuals learn how to target establishments that do not impose standard crime prevention techniques.

Prevention: In addition to well enforced cash handling policies and emergency procedures, it's important to make your efforts to prevent workplace violence evidence to the public. Highly visible security cameras, security cash safes, and signs that alert customers of the employee's limited access to cash, all help to protect employees from violent robberies. The height of the counter also works as a subconscious and physical barrier between employee and customer.

Risk Factor: Mobile Workplaces
Delivery drivers, cab drivers, and other employees who work primarily alone from their vehicle are often targets of violence. Without an unpredictable environment and lack of a protective building structure, those who work from their vehicles can find themselves in any number of violent and threatening situations.

Having an accessible alert or panic button that employees can use to call attention to themselves is a good start for preventing mobile workplace violence. Installing GPS locators and implementing processes to identify and react to unusual driving behavior can be another useful crime prevention method. For some types of businesses or for coverage in high-risk areas, it can be beneficial to staff multiple employees on one shift with policies to ensure that these staffing procedures are consistently followed. Criminally minded opportunists often learn to spot inconsistencies and exploit weak points such as a single driver when there are normally two.

The key to preventing workplace violence is a well thought out plan created from the point of view of the criminal. To reduce disasters from trial by error, it's important to train with or consult with criminal behavior and forensics specialists. There are various tools and training programs for employers to aid in preventing workplace violence created by experts who have studied the minds and routines of violent criminals for years are able to pick out patterns of behavior and reasoning.

Taking steps to protect the safety of your employees and your business can make an incredible difference in moral, in the ability to attract high quality associates, and can save you from serious liability in the future.
About the Author
Author is a writer for Academy Group which specializes in behavioral sciences and threat assessment. For more information you can visit www.Academy-Group.com.
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