The following recommendations are intended to help victims at work. Understanding of an aggressor in most incidents of external workplace violence.
Do not provoke the aggressor or group of aggressors:
*By staying calm and keeping your cool, you can avoid working up the aggressor and igniting tension.
*Be firm and give short answerssuch as "Yes. No. That’s possible." Speak clearly and slowly without raising your voice.
Do not argue or contradict the aggressor. Listening calmly to your aggressor will help him or her blow off some steam.
Leave the product or documentation that causes the aggressor’s frustration alone. Picking it up could make matters worse.
If possible, try to bring the discussion back to the problem at hand. Try to be understanding and to resolve the conflict by proposing a solution that gives the aggressor an honorable way out.
If possible, ask for help from a co-worker if, after a few minutes and several attempts at conciliation, if your aggressor does not calm down. An aggressor’s unpredictable behavior is often caused by alcohol ordrug use.
Avoid physical retaliation at all costs, unless it is your last resort in self-defense. If you feel threatened, give the aggressor what he/she wants.
Never put your own safety at risk.
Maintain a reasonable distance from the aggressor.
Avoid any sudden movements or any seemingly threatening gestures such as pointing your finger.
Take notes about each episode of violence: date, time, place, behavior (whether it was a repeated attack, whether you were alone or isolated, humiliating remarks, injustice, abuse, etc.), names of witnesses and other useful information.
Talk about the incident with co-workers you trust or family members. If they witnessed the incident, ask them to take down notes about the behavior of the aggressor or group of aggressors.
If necessary, screen your calls; keep track of names, dates and messages.
10 Measures to Take AFTER an Incident of Workplace Violence
Encourage the victim to denounce the aggressor and file a formal complaint.
Ask the victim to write a report on the aggressor from the notes taken on each episode of violence:
Date, time, place, behavior (whether it was a repeated attack, whether they were alone or isolated, humiliating remarks, injustice, verbal or physical abuse, etc.), names of witnesses and other useful information. Use an Event Report Form.
Conduct an investigation on the aggressor or group of aggressors.If you feel it is important, do not hesitate to inform the police about the event and give precise details. Make sure that proper legal and disciplinary measures are taken against the aggressor or group of aggressors.
Activate the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), including counselling from psychologists and other experts through individual consultation, group therapy or telephone help lines.
Set up measures to help the victim take control and go back to work: encourage the victim to talk about the ordeal with co-workers, superiors, family members and friends, and to seek their comfort and support.
Offer support in indemnity claims or legal mattersinvolving the victim as well as other employees and/or family members concerned.
Keep a record of all workplace violence incidentsin the organization. Document all incidents to be able to analyze and identify sensitive sectors that are more vulnerable or exposed to violence.
Strengthen existing prevention measures after determining how and why the workplace violence occurred despite the prevention measures. Monitor the training of work teams. Working in teams highlights interpersonal relations and may give rise to some situations that could cause tension among people.
Deal with conflicts swiftly, and from the moment they begin. Harassment and violence stem from unresolved conflicts that fester. They can degenerate and turn the workplace into a hostile environment and create negative occurrences that are violent and costly. Set up effective lines of communication.
This Workplace Violence website provides information on the extent of violence in the workplace, assessing the hazards in different settings and developing workplace violence prevention plans for individual worksites.
What is workplace violence? Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.
Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides.
Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a major concern for employers and employees nationwide.
Who is at risk of workplace violence?
Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported. The truth is, workplace violence can strike anywhere, anytime, and no one is immune. Research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites.
Such factors include exchanging money with the public and working with volatile, unstable people. Working alone or in isolated areas may also contribute to the potential for violence. Providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of violence.
Additionally, time of day and location of work, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates, are also risk factors that should be considered when addressing issues of workplace violence.
Among those with higher risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.
How can workplace violence hazards be reduced?
In most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions.One of the best protections employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence.
This policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.
By assessing their work sites, employers can identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring. OSHA believes that a well written and implemented Workplace Violence Prevention Program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and Federal workplaces.
This can be a separate workplace violence prevention program or can be incorporated into an injury and illness prevention program, employee handbook, or manual of standard operating procedures. It is critical to ensure that all workers know the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly.
In addition, OSHA encourages employers to develop additional methods as necessary to protect employees in high risk industries.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and worker rights? Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers.
The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or worker rights.
OSHA has a great deal of information to assist employers in complying with their responsibilities under the OSHA law. OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to OSHA's Regional & Area Offices webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential on-site consultation service to help determine whether there are hazards at their work sites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. On-site consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations.
To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-site Consultation webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards.
Employees can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eCompliant Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to your local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by an employee are more likely to result in an inspection. If you think your job is unsafe or you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). It's confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
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