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May 1, 2012

Avoiding Conflict at Your Workplace

By Charaee May 1, 2012

Workplace Violence, Any Time – Any Where

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.  It can affect and involved employees, clients, customers and visitors. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

There are four recognized types of workplace violence.  They include:

  1. An employee involved with a criminal outsider (e.g. robbery)
  • Assailant has no business relationship to workplace
  • Motive is to commit robbery or other criminal act
  • Accounts for most of fatalities from workplace violence
  1. An employee involved with a client (e.g. customer, student, patient)
  • Assailants can be current or former customers or clients such as passengers, patients, students, inmates, criminal suspects or prisoners
  • The workers attacked typically provide direct services to the public

In some industries, violence by customers or clients occurs on a daily basis, especially verbal threats

  1. Assailant has employment-related involvement
  • Current or former employee or manager
  • An employee involved with a co-worker
  1. An employee involved with a spouse or other significant relationship
  • Assailant confronts a worker, at the worksite, with whom they have a personal relationship outside of work.
  • Personal relations include:
    • Current or former spouse
    • Lover
    • Friend
    • Relative
    • Acquaintance

Companies should take it upon themselves to:

1. Develop a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy

    • A policy should carefully define what workplace violence is, and should be written to complement any existing policies that deal with assistance programs. The policy should also let employees know what help is available from the employer.

    2. Train Employees

      • Procedures need to be developed to respond to situations in which violence erupts in the workplace. Employees should be trained on what specifically they should do when they spot it. Emphasis should be placed on how coworkers or close friends may assist in detecting potential violence. In addition, training should be given to managers and supervisors, human resources personnel and company security. The policy and procedures need to be communicated to all employees, with their specific reporting protocol.

      A number of different actions in the work environment can trigger or cause workplace violence. It may even be the result of non-work-related situations such as domestic violence or “road rage.” Workplace violence can be inflicted by an abusive employee, a manager, supervisor, co-worker, customer, family member, or even a stranger.

      Whatever the cause or whoever the perpetrator, workplace violence is not to be accepted or tolerated.

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