5 Steps for Protecting Your Business Against Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is a real threat in our global economy. No business is exempt from the threat of violence and that threat may stem from either an internal or external source. Knowing ahead of time how to respond to a situation can save valuable seconds in response time. We talk a lot about drafting plans and policies before you need them, but there are practical, tangible steps you can take to reduce your desirability as a target and protect your workers.
You cannot predict workplace violence, but you can take steps to protect your facility. Install a secured entrance and electronic doors in your facility to limit access from unauthorized persons. Perimeter fencing is an exterior option. Enact visitor controls that require all visitors to log into and out of the facility and be escorted by an employee at all times during their visit. Install a panic alarm button at the reception or welcome desk. If this area has a window, bullet-proof glass can be installed. Conduct thorough background checks on all employees, including temporary workers and contractors. Install surveillance cameras at all entrances to the building and in the common areas of the interior. Overhead mirrors can reduce blind spots. Security and courtesy officers may be hired to patrol the property during working hours, after hours, or both.
Understand Risk Factors.
Workplace violence is most often preceded by some particular stressor that triggers the perpetrator. Life is stressful. Work is stressful. Everyone is busy. It is impossible to know what might trigger a person and we certainly cannot place a cloud of suspicion over anyone’s head because they have experienced X number of Y factors in the preceding Z number of months. There is no formulaic checklist to protect us. There are, however, certain commonalities that can (CAN…not WILL) serve as trigger events. These include, but are in no way limited to, job layoffs and terminations, domestic situations, loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, injury or illness (of the employee or a loved one), and substance abuse. Suicidal talk should be taken seriously. You are cautioned not to apply these factors as a checklist overlay. Rather, you should be alert to extreme changes in behavior.
Watch for Signals.
Be alert to agitation, pacing, and aggressive body language. Any customer or employee who becomes argumentative or physically intimidating (leaning into or over another person, crossing physical boundaries to get close to another worker) should be removed from the premises as soon as possible. Cursing, yelling, flailing of arms, throwing things, and making verbal threats are all serious signs of agitation and should be addressed quickly. De-escalation and removal are key to a safe, positive outcome.
Control What You Can.
Controlling these situations is critical to assuring the safety of your workers. This is where good training comes into play. Teach crisis intervention techniques so employees understand how to respond empathetically to de-escalate the situation. Employees should know not to argue and to disengage from the conversation. The goal is to remove the aggressor from the premises and/or to remove the employee from the aggressor’s reach.
Employees should know ahead of time how and when to respond to aggressive behaviors. Sometimes, listening is our most valuable asset. Other times, retreat is the best response. Your employees have mere seconds to choose, and must choose wisely.
Develop Some Resources.
First aid kits should be accessible throughout your facility. Set up a designated assembly area with controlled access inside the building. Create emergency evacuation plans and designated assembly areas. Develop a shelter-in-place policy that includes a code word for lifting the shelter-in-place restriction. Coordinate emergency response plans with local fire and police departments.
In a perfect world, we could predict who needs assistance before a trigger event occurs. While that is not possible, resources like an employee assistance program can be invaluable resources. Be sure your employees know what programs are available to them. Hang posters around the facility with phone numbers so workers can access these resources confidentially. Be alert to your surroundings and aware of questionable behavior. An early response is the best response.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our Kansas City Safety and Risk Management Firm on our website or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Boosting employee morale extends beyond the money and the perks, and sometimes requires a little creativity and silliness. Thanks to our friends at Rombourne Serviced Offices for asking us to participate in their team-building activity survey! Read on to learn how to Beat the New Year Blues: How to increase office morale in January … or beat cabin fever in March … or summertime heat in June … or holiday anxiety in December … These tips are great year round.
March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month
Eye injuries in the workplace are far too common, particularly when the vast majority of these injuries are preventable. Even a minor injury can inflict serious and permanent damage to the eye, up to and including blindness. Safety glasses and goggles are invaluable in protecting your eyes on the job. Metal shavings, sawdust, liquids, acids, gases, sparks, and radiation all pose hazards to your vision.
A leading cause of eye injuries is the failure to wear adequate eye protection. Some common reasons reported for failure to wear eye protection are:
- Improper Fit
Fit is critical. As with any other PPE, eyewear should be fitted to the individual. Non-prescriptive eyewear should be adjustable in order to achieve a balance of proper fit and protection. Options such as gel nose pieces and cushioned brow pieces can improve comfort. Appearance is subjective and, obviously, should never take precedence over safety, but offering a wide selection of frames and styles may encourage workers to wear safety glasses.
Regardless of style and features, all protective lenses should meet proper standards for impact resistance, distortion-free/anti-fogging, and UV protection. Polycarbonate lenses are required for working in high-impact areas where tempered glass lenses or acrylic plastic lenses do not afford enough protection. Filter lenses for welding, hot work, and radiation must be compliant with requirements for each such operation. Eyewear should cover both the front and side of the eye or the entire face. Prescription safety lenses are available and should be provided to employees requiring same. Employers and workers alike should understand the exposures in order to choose the proper safety eyewear. OSHA standards for eye and face protection can be found here.
Employees should assess their environment prior to starting work to minimize and remove hazards where possible. In the event of an eye injury, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following:
For all eye injuries:
- DO NOT touch, rub or apply pressure to the eye.
- DO NOT try to remove the object stuck in the eye.
- Do not apply ointment or medication to the eye.
- See a doctor as soon as possible, preferably an ophthalmologist.
If your eye has been cut or punctured:
- Gently place a shield over the eye. The bottom of a paper cup taped to the bones surrounding the eye can serve as a shield until you get medical attention.
- DO NOT rinse with water.
- DO NOT remove the object stuck in eye.
- DO NOT rub or apply pressure to eye.
- Avoid giving aspirin, ibuprofen or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs thin the blood and may increase bleeding.
- After you have finished protecting the eye, see a physician immediately.
If you get a particle or foreign material in your eye:
- DO NOT rub the eye.
- Lift the upper eyelid over the lashes of your lower lid.
- Blink several times and allow tears to flush out the particle.
- If the particle remains, keep your eye closed and seek medical attention.
In case of a chemical burn to the eye:
- Immediately flush the eye with plenty of clean water
- Seek emergency medical treatment right away.
To treat a blow to the eye:
- Gently apply a small cold compress to reduce pain and swelling.
- DO NOT apply any pressure.
- If a black eye, pain or visual disturbance occurs even after a light blow, immediately contact your ophthalmologist or emergency room.
- Remember that even a light blow can cause a significant eye injury.
To treat sand or small debris in the eye:
- Use eye wash to flush the eye out.
- DO NOT rub the eye.
- If the debris doesn’t come out, lightly bandage the eye and see an ophthalmologist or visit the nearest emergency room.
The best medicine is still prevention. Protective eyewear is only effective when worn.