Integrated Security Services, Inc., New York

FEMA’s 25-Minute Online Class Could Protect You and Your Employees from Workplace Violence

23 Apr

Office workersSeattle Municipal Archives/flickr

FEMA is offering short online classes to raise awareness of violence in the workplace, with the larger goal of teaching employees how to recognize the warning signs of aggression and prevent violence from occurring before it’s too late.

Unlike sexual harassment and discrimination, violence in the workplace isn’t usually something that employees are educated about.

This is surprising, considering the statistics — according to data collected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately two million Americans are victims of workplace violence every year. To put that into perspective, that’s 1 in every 60 employees.

Statistics from the Bureau of Justice show that, although workplace violence can happen in all places of work, several jobs and industries have a much higher rate of violent occurrences than others. Law enforcement experiences by far the highest number of incidents, with 47.7 per 1000 employees aged 16 or over affected by violence.

Other job fields that hold high rates of workplace violence per 1000 employees include mental health (20.5), transportation (12.2), retail (7.1), and teaching (6.5).

Now that we know it’s a significant problem, what can we do to prevent it? In its new online class, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) outlines a number of measures to prevent workplace violence from occurring, divided into the following categories: environment, security, education, observation, and support.

Environment

Employers need to maintain as positive an environment as possible by minimizing isolation, resentment, and hostility among employees. This can be achieved by promoting good communication between staff, offering opportunities for career development, and establishing a friendly work environment.

In addition, consistent disciplinary action should be taken when employees exhibit improper conduct or poor performance.

Security

Maintaining a safe and secure workplace is essential to preventing violence. Some helpful safety measures to incorporate include photo identification badges, on-site guards, and on-site law enforcement response units. Employees should also be required to notify the security staff or police about suspicious or unauthorized individuals and behavior.

Education

Education and training is critical to any prevention strategy, violence-related or not. In addition to workplace violence training, education in communications, conflict resolution, anger management, and stress reduction are also undeniably useful.

If employees are taught techniques to properly handle issues in the workplace, they’re far less likely to resort to violence.

Observations

Simply remaining cognizant of performance and conduct problems in the workplace is extremely important, as these can offer clear warning signs for potential violence. Just knowing how to spot these red flags can help you identify both perpetrators and victims of workplace violence.

The presence of such warning signs, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a violent act will definitely occur. If they aren’t pointing to violence, these signs could be linked to other, more personal issues, such as illness, depression, or bereavement. Either way, such vigilance can snuff out a potential disaster safely in advance.

How Integrated Can Help

Integrated Security’s highly-trained security professionals can help you reduce the chance of violence in your workplace by working with your company’s management to assess and identify risk factors and then offer and develop proven methods of prevention. Contact us today to learn more about how you can make your workplace as safe and comfortable as possible.

Despite significant improvements over the past twenty years, violence in the workplace is still far too frequent an occurrence in America. FEMA also deserves credit for tackling this problem head on by encouraging Americans to take steps to prevent these incidents before it’s too late.

By taking their online classes and applying their prescribed measures, workers can also be safer, better educated, and more observative of their workplace surroundings.