Lessons On How to Combat Workplace Violence

Workplace violence remains a concern for many employers and employees. While far too often, coworkers will note that there was no way they could have predicted such an event, CEO of Incident Management Team Inc. Marilyn Knight, offers the following observation to Safety + Health magazine: “There are indeed warning signs. There are things you can do. There are ways to mitigate threats, and you can take proactive steps so you’re not just sitting there at the mercy of something and hoping that somebody doesn’t do this.”

In order to ensure employees are aware of the risks and signs, it is vital that organizations speak frankly about the potential for workplace violence, while emphasizing the importance of worker safety. Says Knight, “we want to make sure that our entire workforce knows what early warning signs are, and that the program itself is seen as a benevolent and caring process. It’s not search and destroy. It’s not to get rid of the people we don’t like. It is about identifying people who may be at risk so we can help them help themselves before they reach a point where they feel like they have nothing left to lose or nothing left to live for.”

To help identify potential at-risk employees, the Minnesota OHSA offers the following indicators that may point to the possibility of worker violence:

  • Sudden, persistent complaining about unfair treatment;
  • Blaming others for problems;
  • Change in behavior or decline in job performance;
  • Stated hope for something bad to happen to supervisor or coworker;
  • Increase in absenteeism;
  • Refusal to accept criticism about work performance; and
  • Inability to manage feelings; outbursts of swearing or slamming doors.


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