July 19, 2017 - If you follow the news, it's clear that violence in the workplace is becoming all too frequent. It arises from many causes and threatens employers and employees alike. This issue provides helpful information on workplace violence, its causes, and ways to mitigate it. Read on and think about how you can decrease the likelihood in your workplace.
A very real, clear and present danger lurks just beyond the consciousness of people who work together eight to ten hours a day, five to seven days a week. It is the potential for violence to occur in your workplace. Increasingly, the Human Resources function is both the target of these threats of workplace violence and the organization's first line of defense for the prevention of workplace violence.
As we start 2017, we anticipate continued growth in demand for (1) identifying threats to management and employees, (2) investigating these, (3) controlling the risk through threat management and, most broadly, (4) enhancing workplace violence prevention at a program level.
Companies with fewer than 5,000 employees assess their workplace violence programs less often than larger companies, and apply fewer training topics and external resources, according to a report from the University of Iowa.
Recent events in San Bernardino, California, and Cookeville, Tennessee, remind us that domestic violence issues sometimes spill over into the workplace, sometimes causing loss of life and/or serious injuries. According to one statistic, 1 in 5 women in the United States is or has been involved in an abusive relationship, and 44 percent of Americans say they know of someone in an abusive relationship. Notably, the workplace is frequently one of the places victims feel safest and seek refuge, but it is also one of the places where abusers know their victims can routinely be found.
Once upon a time, employees who were dissatisfied with how management treated them might respond by organizing, filing a grievance or suing. If they were really frustrated, they might refuse to sign the warning notice or performance appraisal form that was presented to them in protest. Nowadays it is not uncommon for disgruntled employees to push the boundaries of behavior much further, even to the point of killing supervisors or managers.
Victims of workplace violence miss 1.8 million days of work every year, and the annual cost of workplace violence for employers is estimated to be nearly $121 billion, according to statistics from the Department of Justice and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. An employer can be held civilly liable for injuries sustained by a victim if the employer knew or should have known that violence could occur.
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