Violence Prevention is a required policy and training in many jurisdictions under Safety and Health legislation. Creating an effective program to deal with violence in the workplace can vary greatly across different businesses. For example in Retail where there is cash present and public interaction the risk of violence may be much greater than someone who works in an office full of graphic designers. It is the presence of cash and public access that make the difference and different prevention strategies need to be considered.
For an organization with no Violence prevention policy a good starting point is to survey the current employees to get their comments on how safe they feel in the workplace, what threats they have had to their personal safety, and what steps or ideas they use or could use to prevent incidents of violence from occurring.
As with most policies a good starting point is a clear definition of what is considered Violence in the Workplace and what is not and an acknowledgement that violence in the workplace is against the law. Related to this are the roles and responsibilities of the Employer, and Employees in helping to prevent incidents.
One of the responsibilities of the Employer is to ensure all employees are aware of risks of violence in the workplace and takes steps to reduce these risks. This is an ongoing activity and can be facilitated with an annual assessment of the situation as well as after every incident of violence has occurred. Employees must be notified any time there is a change in the nature or extent of risk of violence.
In the event an incident of violence does occur employees need a process to follow to reduce the impact to people’s personal safety. Incidents of violence need to be reported and an incident investigation conducted to determine the situation and circumstances that led to the incident and what actions if any could be taken to prevent a similar incident in the future. There may also be formal reporting and follow up required as part of local regulations.
Once an effective violence prevention policy has been established it must be communicated with employees and reviewed on a regular basis. It is also important that all new employees are given an orientation training which includes the Violence Prevention training as close to and ideally before their start date with the organization.
People are at their best when they are in an environment that they feel safe and comfortable in. They may have a very respectful workplace and work very well with their co-workers and the risk of violence may be a result of interactions with third parties such as customers or suppliers. And in some situations the risk of workplace violence may be a result of tension and disrespectful behaviour from within the employee group.
There are many resources available such as policy templates, and videos on violence prevention techniques. Creating an effective training program for your workplace is a matter of making use of the tools and resources you have available to educate your employees on the risks of violence in the workplace and the steps to prevent incidents from occurring.
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