Workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees alike. Incidents of violence in the workplace can range from verbal abuse and harassment to physical assault and even murder. With the increasing frequency of these incidents, it is crucial for employers to have preventative measures and emergency response plans in place. This post will explore the reasons why workplace violence is on the rise, the steps that can be taken to prevent it, and crucially, how an EHS mobile app with ReadyKey can assist in preventing and responding to incidents of workplace violence.
A Growing Concern
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as: “Any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” And there are worrying signs that incidents of violence in the workplace are on the rise, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics currently reporting that it is the second leading cause of non-roadway workplace fatalities.
So what is causing this increase in incidents? The most common cause of workplace violence is stress — and due to the impacts of the pandemic, people are currently facing record levels. According to a 2020 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), 66% of adults in the United States reported an increase in stress and anxiety and that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are a number of other reasons that could also play a part in the increase in workplace violence in recent years. Some of the main factors include:
- Economic stress: As the economy struggles, many people can feel an increase in stress and pressure, which can lead to feelings of frustration and anger. This can manifest itself in the form of violence against coworkers or supervisors.
- Workforce changes: With more women and minorities entering the workforce, there is a greater likelihood of discrimination and harassment, which can lead to violence.
- Firearms access: With more people owning firearms, the potential for workplace violence increases. This can be particularly concerning in workplaces that are at a higher risk of violence, such as healthcare, retail, and public transportation.
- Mental health: Many individuals who commit acts of workplace violence may have untreated mental health issues. With a lack of support, these individuals may not have access to the resources they need to manage their mental health.
- Social media: Social media and other digital communication platforms have made it easier for individuals to express their frustrations, which can lead to increased incidents of workplace violence.
- Remote work: With the pandemic and the increase in remote work, the boundaries between work and personal life have been blurred. This can lead to more stress and burnout, which can contribute to an increase in workplace violence.
It's important to note that workplace violence is a complex issue, and these factors can interact with each other to increase the risk of violence. Employers and employees alike must be aware of the potential for violence and take proactive steps to prevent it.
What Can You Do?
An organization can prevent, prepare, and respond to workplace violence incidents by implementing a comprehensive approach that includes the following steps:
- Develop a workplace violence policy: Organizations should develop a clear and comprehensive workplace violence policy that outlines the organization's stance on workplace violence and the steps it will take to prevent, prepare for, and respond to incidents of violence.
- Conduct regular risk assessments: Organizations should conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards and implement preventive measures such as security cameras, security personnel, and panic buttons.
- Provide employee training: Organizations should provide training for employees on how to recognize and report incidents of violence, as well as how to handle potentially violent situations. A recent study found that American organizations can reduce costs by up to 70% by replacing traditional classroom training with digital microlearning options.
- Implement security measures: Organizations should implement security measures such as security cameras, security personnel, and panic buttons to help prevent and respond to workplace violence incidents.
- Establish an emergency response plan: Organizations should establish an emergency response plan and make sure that all employees know what to do in case of an emergency, including emergency evacuation routes, emergency contact numbers and designated safe areas. Regular emergency drills should be conducted to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.
- Provide support for employees: Organizations should provide support for employees who have experienced violence or have been witness to it. This can include psychological counseling and support groups to help employees cope with the trauma of the incident.
- Employee empowerment: Employees should be empowered to speak up if they witness or experience any form of violence. Employees should also be trained to protect themselves, such as being aware of their surroundings, avoiding confrontations with coworkers, and learning self-defense techniques.
- Screening: Organizations should conduct background checks on all employees and contractors, especially if they have access to sensitive areas of the workplace.
- Utilize safety software & technology: Organizations can utilize safety software such as an emergency preparedness app to deliver critical information and help prevent and respond to workplace violence incidents.
Prevention & Response in the Palm of your Hands
Make the comprehensive workplace violence prevention and incident response plan available to the entire workforce with a custom mobile app. Easily keep content up to date with the latest guidance and make it accessible to employees anytime, anywhere. Deliver critical information and also collect critical information from the workforce. A custom EHS app built using the ReadyKey platform has endless capabilities and can be a valuable tool in preventing and responding to incidents of workplace violence.
A Ready App is easy to build and always accessible. Employees can use mobile incident report forms to report incidents of violence or harassment, even if they are away from their desks or in a remote location. And since reports can be submitted anonymously, employees are more likely to report incidents early, before the situation escalates. When reports are filed an immediate email can be triggered to alert an individual or group that can handle the situation. This allows employers to take prompt and appropriate action to address the situation.
Additionally, a ReadyKey emergency preparedness app can provide employees with real-time information about emergency procedures and emergency contact numbers, which can be critical in an emergency situation. In the event of a workplace violence incident, employees can immediately access this information and know exactly what to do.
Push notifications can also be utilized on an EHS compliance app such as ReadyKey to alert employees of an emergency situation. Upon opening the notification, the employee can be instantly directed to the relevant information to help minimize the risk of injury or death during an incident of workplace violence.
Another benefit of a mobile EHS app is that it can help to increase employee engagement. It can be tough to get individuals to attend and stay focused on long seminars and certification classes. And most of the time only a small portion of the information gets retained. An EHS app creates the opportunity for microlearning that breaks up materials into smaller sections that are easy to understand. Add quizzes and surveys to help employees track their progress. This can lead to increased employee satisfaction and a more positive working environment. Leadership can review the quiz and survey data to see if there are any knowledge gaps within their teams.
Moreover, a mobile app can be a useful tool for employers to track and monitor workplace violence incidents. Employers can use the data collected from the app to identify patterns and trends and take appropriate measures to address any issues that arise. This can reduce the risk of future incidents of violence.
In conclusion, workplace violence is a growing concern that must be taken seriously by employers and employees alike. The causes of workplace violence are complex and multifaceted, with stress being one of the main factors, but also including economic pressures, workforce demographic changes, easy access to firearms, lack of mental health support, social media, and remote work. So, it is crucial for employers to have preventative measures and emergency response plans in place.
A custom EHS mobile app built with ReadyKey can assist in preventing and responding to incidents of workplace violence. A Ready App provides employees with real-time information about emergency procedures, tracking and monitoring incidents, and provides employee training and education.
When employees feel supported, empowered, and safe, they are more likely to stay engaged and productive. This reduces downtime, increases employee satisfaction, and builds a positive team culture. Empower your team with a Ready App to support the prevention of workplace violence.