Workplace Violence Training: 7 Steps To Prevent Workplace Violence

Workplace violence training prepares employees to stay safe during any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other dangerous behavior that occurs at work. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults. 

It is an employer’s responsibility to assess their worksites, identify potential workplace hazards, and implement methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring. Read on to find several steps an organization can take to reduce workplace violence hazards, including establishing a zero-tolerance policy or implementing a prevention program

What is Workplace Violence Prevention Training?

Workplace violence training helps prepare your employees during any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other dangerous behavior that may occur at work. Prevention of violence in the workplace starts with training. The safety training course will give you the critical skills you need to:

  • Understand the threat of workplace violence.
  • Identify types of abuse, risk factors and potentially violent employees.
  • Comply with workplace violence requirements and guidelines, keep appropriate records and report incidents.
  • Respond to various forms of workplace violence, both at the moment, and after they occur.
  • Develop and manage engineering controls and employee training to prevent workplace violence.

As a workplace safety officer or HR specialist, you must create a workplace free from hazards. While many incidents of violence seem random, knowing the warning signs can help you stop assaults. The goal of prevention training is to develop awareness and create a plan to prevent violence.

Why is Workplace Violence Training Important?

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to workplace violence training, every organization must have a workplace violence prevention plan tailored to its particular industry, culture, product, location, and more. 

Workplace violence training is vital for the following two reasons:

  • Allows employees to develop skills and practice proper procedures if an event of workplace violence were to occur
  • Teaches employees how to defuse potentially dangerous situations at their workplace, keeping themselves and others safe

Preparing for any type of workplace violence is critical to the health, safety, and well-being of employees. It ultimately leads to a secure work environment that is inclusive to everyone.  

Who is at Risk For Workplace Violence?

While workplace violence can affect anyone, certain risk factors increase a person’s risk, including gender and occupation.

  • Gender

Women, in particular, are vulnerable to domestic violence in the workplace. They have more than double the rate of on-the-job homicides than men (19% to 8%), with 32% of the homicides committed by a domestic partner.

  • Occupation

While taxi drivers, healthcare workers, and other social work occupations have some of the highest rates of workplace violence, other sectors of employment are seeing an increase in workplace violence, too. For these employees, workplace violence is the third leading cause of death on the job.

In general, occupations with the highest risk of workplace violence include interacting with the public, being open after dark, and serving alcohol.

Types of Workplace Violence

Here are four types of workplace violence that one usually encounters. 

  • Criminal Intent 

In this case, the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees and is usually committing a crime in conjunction with the violence (robbery, shoplifting, trespassing). 

  • Customer/client Violence

This type is the most common in healthcare settings. This course considers the customer/client relationship to include patients, their family members, and visitors and is referred to as client-on-worker violence. Research shows that this type of violence occurs most frequently in emergency and psychiatric treatment settings, waiting rooms, and geriatric settings but is by no means limited to these. 

  • Worker-on-worker

This type of violence between coworkers is commonly referred to as lateral or horizontal violence. It includes bullying and frequently manifests as verbal and emotional abuse that is unfair, offensive, vindictive, and humiliating though it can range to homicide. Worker-on-worker violence is often directed at persons viewed as inferior, such as in a supervisor to supervisee or doctor to nurse.

  • Personal relationship

In this type of violence, the perpetrator has a relationship with a worker outside of work that spills over to the work environment. This type usually includes domestic violence regarding personal issues.

How Can You Make Your Workplace Violence Prevention Programs Work?

Here are seven steps you should take for your workplace violence prevention training to be more effective.

  • Analyze Your Workplace

A thorough analysis of your workplace is necessary to understand where the bulk of your workplace violence prevention training should focus. Ask yourself these questions to figure out where you are in terms of workplace violence prevention:

  1. Has there been violence in your workplace before?
  2. When, what kind, and who was involved?
  3. How was it handled?
  4. What systems were put in place afterwards, and were they effective?
  5. If there have been no violent incidents in your company’s history, what are you doing well?
  6. Are there gaps in your workplace violence policies? Where?
  7. How safe is the physical environment? Which doors stay locked? How are employees protected if they leave late at night?

Some companies have never considered how a simple look at existing organizational systems can help target potential risk factors for workplace violence. These questions can help.

  • Create a Supportive Environment

Every training program starts with developing a relationship with employees. You and your HR department must make employees feel heard and supported at work. Workers reporting potential violence or verbally threatening remarks should be supported and not face reprisals, regardless of who it is. Workplace violence policies apply up the corporate ladder and with any client.

  • Create an Action Plan, Share It with Employees, and Practice

No one wants to think about the worst-case scenario, much less practice it regularly, but having a plan in place could save lives. Workplace violence prevention training may not be the most fun training you have ever offered your employees, but it just may be the most important. 

  • Commit to a Non-violent Workplace

Commitment to a non-violent workplace means regularly allocating resources, money and time to training workers and preventing workplace violence.

  • Training Employees to Recognize Warning Signs

Training employees to be alert to warning signs of potential workplace violence can stop an incident before it starts. Warning signs of potential violence include some or all of the following:

  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Behavioral changes that include poor job performance
  • Depression or withdrawal
  • Complaints about unfair treatment
  • Violation of company policies
  • Mood swings and overreaction to criticism or evaluations
  • Paranoia

Final Thoughts

Workplace Prevention Training helps employers and employees deal with the growing issue of workplace violence and create a dialogue about the shared responsibility of maintaining a safe workplace. Preventing workplace violence is a difficult challenge. Workplace Violence physically injured employees, disrupts business, damages morale, creates expenses (medical, legal), and hurts your reputation.

Workplace violence training for employees will help supervisors and employees learn to identify behavior and language that represents the potential to escalate into violence. That includes verbal threats, verbal abuse, yelling, pushing, kicking, hitting, stalking, and physical violence, including lethal violence. 

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