Preventing Workplace Violence

Preventing workplace violence … Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Use these violence prevention strategies to identify 8 warning signs of violent employee behavior, access 2 examples of a sound workplace violence policy and learn how YOUR management style can stop workplace violence before it erupts…

Make workplace safety a core part of your management strategy and policy planning. Use our workplace violence prevention strategies, sample policies and screening advice to keep your most valuable capital – your workers – safe and violence free.

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Although we usually think of the ADA in terms of helping disabled people perform their jobs with or without accommodations, the law also has important workplace safety implications. Under the ADA, you must make sure your emergency evacuation plans take into account the needs of disabled employees. Some issues to consider:

Employers and employees have the right to a safe work environment free from violence or direct threats of harm. Punishing an employee who puts others in danger or creates widespread fear is not only appropriate, but essential. That’s true regardless of the underlying reason for the threatening behavior. You can discipline the employee, no matter why he misbehaved.

Employers are sometimes nervous about demanding that an employee undergo a medical exam. They fear doing so somehow violates the ADA. If an employee threatens suicide or some other violent act, it’s legal for an employer to order a fitness-for-duty exam.

Get ready for much tougher enforcement under OSHA's new Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The SVEP will concentrate OSHA’s resources on inspecting employers that have demonstrated indifference to their safety and health obligations by committing willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations. Here's what you need to know to prepare for this new workplace safety regime.

You can’t predict the behavior of your employees, clients and all their associates. You can’t anticipate every possible danger. But the law dictates that you, as the employer, have a “duty of care” to keep all individuals in your workplace safe from dangers you can reasonably anticipate. To do that, you need to evaluate potential dangers and formulate an appropriate action plan.

The almost universal employer response to increased workplace violence has been the implementation of so-called zero-tolerance policies. The problem with zero-tolerance rules is that they only work if they’re uniformly enforced. Employers can’t pick and choose which employee’s behavior violates the policy. To do so invites legal trouble, as the following case shows.

The federal OSHA says California’s occupational safety and health program is deficient. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) disagrees—although officials admit there’s always room for improvement.
Q. We recently sent an employee home for not following his supervisor’s instructions. Do we have an obligation to pay him for the full day regardless? How should we handle this situation in the future? Is this considered administrative leave?
The sour economy has every company looking for ways to pinch pennies. If belt-tightening turns into illegality, employers can expect employees to alert the authorities. Virtually every law governing the workplace has a whistle-blower provision.
Acts of violence can take place at any time, in any location. If you think your company is immune to violent behavior, think again. Violence is a problem that can infiltrate every industry and profession.
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