Workplace Violence Prevention Policy
Author: Leanne Coffman
When to Use This Policy
Violent acts in the workplace transpire with alarming frequency. Approximately two million American workers are victims of workplace violence annually according to estimates from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Yet more disturbing is the fact that many cases of violence on the job are unreported, which means the actual rate of workplace violence is likely higher than statistics demonstrate.
Workplace violence has many forms and sources. Externally sourced violence, such as road rage, criminal acts, domestic violence and hostile customers can represent significant dangers for employees. However, often the sources of violence are internal. Disgruntled workers and aggressive or threatening behavior between employees are types of violence that can occur at any establishment.
Consequences of workplace violence are serious. Violent acts and assaults are responsible for a growing number of homicides and injuries on the job, especially in certain demographics and occupational duties. Even less physical forms of violence (such as threats, verbal abuse or stalking) can cause serious psychological damage to the worker. When allowed to perpetuate, these low level forms of violence can cause a toxic working environment for the entire facility.
Therefore, due to prevalence and consequences of violence, nearly all workplaces must address the topic with preventative tactics, well developed policies, reporting criteria and employee training. These and other elements comprise the workplace violence prevention program.
Foundational in this program is a policy, which demonstrates the commitment of management toward violence prevention and expresses zero tolerance for violent acts in the workplace. The policy is the cornerstone from which the entire program is constructed, as it offers guidance, defines prohibited behavior and outlines reporting criteria and responsibilities under the workplace violence prevention program.
The policy should be used to establish a new workplace violence prevention program or to incorporate the information into an existing program. The policy may also be adopted into employee handbooks, accident prevention programs and standard operating procedural manuals.
The policy should be used as the basis for training the workforce on the topics of violence and security measures. All employees should know the employer expectations regarding acceptable conduct and reporting criteria for violence in the workplace. Equally important, the policy serves as a necessary vehicle for communicating the commitment of management to promptly investigate and remedy reports of violence.