In case you’ve missed it, April is National Workplace Violence Awareness Month. Each year, the Alliance Against Workplace Violence encourages others to use this time to promote the education of workplace violence prevention and pay respects to people who have died at work. Although half of the month is over, there is still time to educate your Crisis Team specifically and your workforce in general on what actions to take to prepare for and prevent acts of violence in the workplace. Below, we’ve listed a few examples of how to respond to a workplace violence situation.
If an individual displays disruptive behavior but does NOT seem dangerous and no weapon is present:
- Display empathy. Ask questions to demonstrate concern and interest. Summarize what you hear the individual saying to reflect your attention.
- Focus on areas of agreement to help resolve the problem.
- If the disruption continues despite a warning, tell the individual that the discussion is over and direct them to leave the building.
- If the individual refuses, seek assistance from security.
If an individual DOES seem dangerous but no weapon is present:
- Set a distress signal with a coworker before meeting with the individual so you can signal them to alert your supervisor or the police if you need assistance.
- Maintain a safe distance. Be calm and non-confrontational and allow the person to describe the problem.
- NEVER touch the individual yourself or try to remove them from the area. Even a gentle push or holding the person’s arm may be interpreted as an assault by an agitated individual. They could respond with violence toward you or file a lawsuit.
- If the situation escalates, find a way to excuse yourself, leave the room, and get help.
If a weapon is present or violence appears to be imminent:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Do not attempt to intervene physically or deal with the situation yourself.
- Get yourself and others to safety as quickly as possible.
OSHA suggests one of the best methods for reducing the risk of assault at your workplace is establishing a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence that covers all company personnel as well as any visitor, client, patient, or contractor who may come in contact with your workers.
*Featured image data source: US Department of Justice