Each year, a whopping 2 million Americans report occurrences of workplace violence, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These incidents might involve threats against other workers, physical assaults, harassment and verbal abuse. Even if your employer takes reasonable precautions to reduce such events, you can also do your part to protect yourself.
Any job that requires you to leave home can be risky, but some jobs pose more of a risk than others. Knowledge about the risks you face is crucial in avoiding workplace violence. For example, your risk of workplace violence is greater if you deal with the public, handle cash and valuables, or provide service and care to mentally ill patients or intoxicated customers. Being aware of these risks is a first precautionary step because they give clues to the next steps you must take to protect yourself.
Take Steps to Prevent Attacks
Some jobs might require you to work late-night shifts. If the shift is regularly unsupervised, take precautions to reduce the risk of workplace violence. For example, if must leave your workplace late at night, have another employee or a security guard walk out with you. Ensure that your workplace is well-lit and that access to outsiders is restricted.
Report Disgruntled Employees
It can be a challenge to work in environments where there is frequent downsizing or labor strikes because they are prone to frequent disruptions. Be wary of workers who are disgruntled and exhibit unpredictable, irrational or aggressive behavior. Report incidents where you feel your colleague's behavior is threatening or abnormal. Also report workers who are extremely frustrated or angry, or who try to bully others. When a co-worker does start acting out on his anger, remain calm and contact security as soon as possible.
Post Trauma Action
When workplace violence occurs, move away from the situation and get your coworkers to do the same. Isolating the area helps keep you safe and also helps authorities get to the perpetrator quickly. If you don't have security personnel on-site, call 911 and let them know that a violent incident has occurred. If you are too traumatized to relay the information coherently, get another witness to help narrate the incident on your behalf and add to the narration where possible.