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Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. However, it manifests itself, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide.

Precautions you can take to minimize or prevent violence on the job. For example:

  • Don’t get drawn into arguments. Loud and aggressive arguments can easily escalate into physical fights.
  • Take verbal threats seriously, but don’t respond to them.
  • Report all threats to your supervisor or the company’s security department.
  • Report all incidents of bullying and sexual harassment.
  • Watch for unauthorized visitors, even those who appear to have legitimate business at your plant. Crimes have been committed by people posing as employees, contractors and repair persons.
  • Report any suspicious person or vehicle to security personnel.
  • Don’t give out information about fellow employees.
  • Keep doors locked before your business officially opens and after closing time.
  • Always have access to communication devices so you can notify someone for help. Speed-dialing numbers should be programmed into phones and emergency numbers should be listed at each phone.
  • Some workplaces have predetermined code words so one employee can tell another about a dangerous customer or visitor without tipping off the suspect. Learn the distress signals used in your workplace.
  • Wear your identification badge as instructed, and never lend your key or entry card to anyone. Notify the security office if you have lost your keys or pass cards. Keep your entry password a secret by memorizing it instead of writing it down.

Warning Signs:

Before people explode in violence at work, they may give signals that something is wrong. There are several warning signs to let you know that trouble is brewing.

Here are a few:

  • Social isolation
  • Decrease in personal hygiene
  • Complaints of unfair treatment
  • Excessive lateness or absenteeism
  • Faulty decision-making
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Inappropriate comments about revenge, violence or weapons
  • Disrespect for authority
  • Swearing
  • Overreacting to criticism

Most of all trust your instincts. If you suspect someone might be following you, go to a safe place such as a crowded area or a police station and get help. If you think there is an intruder in the building, call for help immediately. Occupational violent crime is a hazard which affects everyone – both male and female.

John Holbach
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