Dealing with Violence at Work

Dealing with Violence at Work

We’ve all heard the phrase “Going Postal” and know exactly what it means. You work hard and you deserve to have peace of mind at work, knowing that you are safe to do your job.

Workplace violence is a physical act, threat of a physical act, harassment, personal theft or intimidation that occurs on the job. You never have to tolerate violence in the workplace.

When you go to work, your expectation is that your co-workers will treat others with dignity and respect, just as you do.

You expect management to provide a safe environment and deal immediately with threatening or potentially violent situations that occur.

Workplace violence is preventable. Unfortunately, it’s also an increasingly common occurrence.

Employers who don’t address it could very well find their business devastated and losing thousands of dollars a week.

Does your company have a policy in place to deal with violence at work? Find out and get familiar with the procedures for filing a complaint.

According to OSHA studies, “there are 18,000 workplace violence incidents each week, and that only about 1 in 5 ever gets reported.”

This is mostly because individuals don’t know their rights or their company policies.

The best prevention comes from identifying potential problems early and dealing with them.  So what can you do to deal with violence at work?

  • Know your company’s policy on workplace violence.  If your organization offers a training or seminar, take it.  The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be.
  • Secure your work space.  Keep your purse or wallet out of public sight. If you do have anything stolen, search your area thoroughly then report the theft immediately to your supervisor or HR.
  • If a co-worker threatens physical harm to you, take action.  Don’t ignore the problem by burying your head in the sand or hoping it will go away. Three out of four times, it may lead to nothing but hurt feelings and strained relationships.
  • You don’t want to take the chance that your incident is the fourth kind where threats become actual violence.  Follow your company’s steps for dealing with threats. Report the exact words stated and, if possible, get a witness to support you.
  • Question/report strangers to supervisors.  Co-workers aren’t the only perpetrators of violence in the workplace.  Disgruntled customers have taken their anger out on employees who work for a company that has angered them.
  • Take any threat, physical or verbal, seriously and report it.  Don’t let fear of embarrassment or doubts convince you to remain silent.  You deserve to work in a violence-free environment.
  • Stay clear of people who consistently display negative emotions.  They may never go beyond simply being the disgruntled complainer at work, but do you really want to be associated with that individual
  • Aside from a tarnished reputation, negative emotions are contagious.  You might just find yourself looking at what’s not working instead of feeling inspired to show what is working in the company.

No one has the right to threaten you with physical harm at work, and your employer should have a policy in place to safeguard your well-being.

Most states require all businesses to have a workplace violence plan.

If you have never had to deal with this issue, that’s great! However, it doesn’t assure you that you will never have to face it.

Pay attention to warning signs:  aggressive behavior, inappropriate talk of violence, repeated expressions of anger, bullying etc.

It’s rare that an individual leap immediately from complete calm to excessive rage that spurs physical violence.

If you’re engaged in a heated discussion or argument at work, you can stop the progression by reigning in your emotions, backing down, walking away or remaining calm yourself.