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Workplace violence, both verbal and physical, occurs with disturbing frequency in the U.S. Sadly, it is often the subject of frightening headlines. As a business owner, it is crucial that you take steps to minimize the chances of it happening in your establishment.

Assess Your Vulnerability

While workplace violence can happen anywhere, there are certain environments where it is more likely. Your employees are particularly at risk if they:

  • Guard items of value.
  • Give and take money.
  • Make deliveries of goods or passengers.
  • Work early in the morning or late at night, particularly in high-crime areas.
  • Do jobs in the community such as utility and home repairs or visiting patients.

Establish a Workplace Violence Prevention Program

Everyone who works for you should know that you have a comprehensive zero-tolerance policy when it comes to violence. Make sure it is in writing and is a prominent part of your employee manual or handbook. As with all other procedures, it will only be effective and enforceable if people know it exists. Train all new employees regarding the details of your policy, and conduct regular refresher courses for existing staff.

Provide Additional Protections

Augment your regulations with the following strategies to guard against physical or verbal abuse:

  • Purchase a comprehensive worker’s compensation policy. If the worst happens, it will provide compensation for worker’s injuries, assisting with medical costs and lost wages. At the same time, it will insure that you will not be held liable in court for these costs.
  • Emphasize to your employees the importance of documenting in writing all incidents of violence, even if only threats take place.
  • Secure your work environment. Where applicable, install lighting, surveillance cameras and alarms. Require that only authorized personnel enter your workplace by instituting the use of electronic fobs or ID badges.
  • Keep only as much cash as is absolutely necessary in your registers, using drop safes to protect the rest.
  • Provide field workers with mobile phones and personal alarm systems. Establish protocols requiring them to check in regularly and set up buddy systems in particularly dangerous work areas.

In spite of your best efforts, no one can completely guarantee that workplace violence will not happen in their place of business. However, protecting your staff with well thought out protocols and caring supervision can go a very long way toward preventing problems. Take some time to carefully review your own environment to maximize safety.