What is workplace violence?
Workplace violence is just as detrimental as unintentional work hazards, and it’s more common than you might think. When left unchecked, bullying, harassment, and assault can turn workplaces into unhealthy environments that take a toll on employees’ mental health. This can affect your business as productivity wanes, absences soar, and performances plummet.
Data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019 showed 41,560 intentional injuries happened at workplaces across the United States — 454 of these were homicides. Apart from the dataset, the fact that these only count reported incidents is just as significant. The number of events could still be higher because of unreported incidents.
For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established regulations to help businesses have a zero-tolerance policy toward violence and prevent it from happening through prototypes like a workplace threat assessment checklist.
In this article, the following points are explained:
What is a workplace threat assessment checklist?
OSHA defined work-related violence as the acts or threat of bodily harm, harassment, intimidation or bullying, and other disruptive behavior done by a person to another person at the workplace. This can come in any form including verbal or written threats, violent behavior, verbal abuse, and physical attacks.
The goal of the workplace threat assessment checklist is simple: identify risk factors, know where they are happening, and prevent them from happening again. Using a workplace threat assessment checklist, employers can establish a structured approach to identifying the best methods of reducing incidents of workplace violence. It paves the way for creating a well-written and strategic zero-tolerance violence prevention program that when combined with proactive safety measures and training, can significantly decrease the incidents of workplace violence and protect the people better.
The use of a checklist is essential in ensuring that steps taken are efficient, thorough, and effective. The best form of assessment is one that yields relevant and accurate data so the right safety measures are implemented.
What Are the 4 types of workplace violence?
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) categorizes workplace violence based on the perpetrator’s relationship to the victim/s. Safety officers conducting a workplace threat assessment can use this categorization to determine the possibilities of a violent event happening and set control measures to mitigate the risk associated with it to prevent the employees from exposure and steps that can be taken to address the risks.
The four types of workplace violence are:
- Type I: Criminal Intent. This is the type of incident where the perpetrator and the business or victim have no legitimate relationship even if it happened at the workplace. Robbery, trespassing, and acts of terrorism fall under the type I category.
- Type II: Customer/Client. As the name suggests, incidents fall under the type II category when the perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business or victim. One scenario when this happens is when a customer becomes verbally abusive while being served by a worker on duty.
- Type III: Worker on Worker. When a current or former employee of the business threatens other employees, whether past or present, it falls under the type III category.
- Type IV: Personal Relationship. In this category, the perpetrator does not have a legitimate relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with the victim. A scenario that is considered type IV workplace violence is when a spouse abuses or assaults the victim while at work.
Violence in all categories is rising steadily. In a 2019 SHRMU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019 report, one in every seven employees report that they do not feel safe at work and only 45% said that their company has a workplace violence prevention program set in place. This dataset is particularly alarming and should be an indicator for any organization to revisit its worker protection initiatives.
How do you prevent workplace violence?
The best way to protect your people is to build a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence. At the heart of this is an effective prevention program. OSHA recommends these five building blocks as a guide on how to prevent workplace violence:
1. Management Commitment and Employee Participation
The zero-tolerance policy should start from management and trickle down to employees. When the workforce sees that management is taking workplace violence seriously, employees will be motivated to follow suit. Additionally, as you develop a prevention program it’s best to involve employees and provide them the opportunity to share their feedback so you can capture different perspectives and experiences that can help you identify workplace hazards.
2. Worksite Analysis and Hazard Identification
To assess your organization’s vulnerability to workplace violence, you need to conduct a needs assessment. This is an important element of a violence prevention plan. Because hazards can come in many forms, at any time, and in any given situation, you must inspect the work site to analyze the physical environment and psychological hazards that apply to specific jobs, teams, activities, and shifts.
3. Hazard Prevention and Control
After you’ve identified the hazards in your workplace, the next step is to implement appropriate safety measures to mitigate the impact that these hazards pose to your employees’ wellbeing. OSHA provides the following recommendations for this:
- Substitution. When a particular workplace practice may be risky or can expose an employee to threats, it should be replaced with a safer work practice.
- Adaptation. Minimizing risks can also be done by adapting to the situation. You can do this by physically removing the hazard or setting a barrier between the threat and the employee. This may be done through the provision of metal detectors, alarms, door locks, exit routes, or increased security to name a few.
- Administrative controls. Implementing stricter administrative practices like visitor sign-in processes, worker attendance tracking, and a reporting system for violent incidents and harassment.
4. Safety and Health Training
The employer must make it a point to equip all employees on how to identify hazards and how to respond to them. This can be done by communicating the workplace violence prevention plan and providing training on risk factors, warning signs of threat, control measures, and response plans for specific occupations. Included in this is the proper use of safety devices like panic buttons and alarms and other things that the employer deems relevant to the workplace.
5. Record-Keeping and Program Evaluation
The consistent document of injuries, incidents, employee histories, and corrective actions is essential in analyzing data to spot developing patterns and measuring the impact of the threat. OSHA also requires employers to keep a log of work-related injuries and illnesses on the OSHA Form 300.
As you conduct your assessment, ensure thoroughness with the help of a workplace threat assessment checklist. Although the process may seem straightforward, there’s always room for mistakes and missteps. A checklist can help you prevent this by functioning as a guide that will walk you through every step of the assessment. This is especially important because there should be no room for mistakes when it comes to safety.
A powerful digital tool for workplace threat assessment checklist
It is not nearly enough to implement a workplace violence prevention program once and then not review it again and again. Since using pen and paper for a regular workplace risk assessment is highly inefficient, an alternative would be to use a digital template.
Lumiform is an easy-to-use assessment tool that provides free digital templates for workplace threat assessment. You can download, use and customize the templates for free. Here’s what you can do with Lumiform:
- Access a variety of templates suitable for assessing the potential for workplace violence in your organization.
- Lumiform’s flexible form builder offers the ability to customize or update existing templates, as well as easily create workplace violence risk assessment templates from scratch.
- Fill out all forms digitally via the app without the need for paper and pen and save them digitally for the future.
- Collect all aggregated information securely in Lumiform cloud storage and access it at any time, as well as share with the entire team instantly.
- Quickly identify risks of violence through simple analytics and take immediate preventative action.
- After each workplace threat assessment, immediately generate a report that can be shared with all responsible persons without delay.
- Establish a timetable for conducting workplace violence assessments and trainings on a regular basis.
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