Violence is often generated in the workplace—by a current or former disgruntled employee or an angry customer, spouse, partner, or relative of an employee. The violence can result from disciplining or firing an employee, employee abuse of drugs or alcohol, harassment by co-workers, mental illness, domestic violence, stalking, or work-related stress.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to provide a safe workplace. Thus, the OSH Act may create an obligation to have a workplace violence policy.
As you devise your policy regarding violence in the workplace, consider the makeup of your workforce. For example, if there is a significant possibility of drug abuse, focus on that issue. Carefully review what violent acts, if any, have occurred at work. Consider what preventive steps can be taken for the future. Create a thorough, written policy that indicates that no type of violent behavior, including intimidation, threats, and acts, will be tolerated. Any violent incident will lead to discipline, including termination.
Employees need to know how to respond to a perceived or actual threat of violence. Who should employees report their concerns to? Who will conduct an investigation? How will the investigation be handled? Who will assess and address the perceived risk?
Review not only the violence that has occurred in your workplace but also consider what acts of violence have occurred at other employers and in your community. Examine what policies have reduced violence for other employers.
The following "Violence in the Workplace" are available on HR.BLR.com:
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