Dealing with Workplace Violence

February 23, 2016 9:55 pm

What would you do if a client started to threaten one of your coworkers? Or if you were asked to terminate an employee who has a history of aggressive outbursts? Or if you were worried about an employee working alone late at night in a ‘bad’ part of town?

While there is no legal requirement to have a workplace violence prevention program, assessing the potential for workplace violence is an essential part of the requirement to “furnish employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the employees therein” (Cal. Labor Code § 6400). Assessing your unique risks is also one of the best ways to prevent and, in worse cases, respond to, instances of workplace violence. Cal/OSHA suggests that there are three main types of workplace violence:

  • Type I: The perpetrator has no legitimate business relationship to the workplace and usually enters the affected workplace to commit a robbery or other crime. Businesses where employees have face-to-face contact with clients or customers, work late at night, or work alone are at a higher risk of this type of workplace violence.
  • Type II: The perpetrator is the recipient of a service provided by the affected workplace or victim. The assailant could be a current or former client, patient, customer, or passenger. This type of violence often impacts health care or social service providers, teachers, sales personnel, or other professionals.
  • Type III: The perpetrator has some employment-related involvement with the affected workplace. This type of violence is committed by a current or former employee or by an employee’s spouse or lover, relative, friend, or some other person who has a dispute with an employee. This type of workplace violence is far less common than Type I or Type II violence.

How you ultimately prevent workplace violence will depend on which risk factors you face, but one of the best practices employers can take is to establish a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence that covers not only employees, but clients, vendors, and any other visitors to your workplace. If you haven’t done so, your next step should be to conduct an initial assessment to identify factors that contribute to your risk for workplace violence, and make plans to mitigate those risks and respond to potential threats. Sierra HR Partners is available to provide workplace violence prevention training. We can also assist you in assessing your risk of workplace violence and taking steps to mitigate it.

Categorized in: