According to a recent study, about 2 million people experience verbal abuse, physical assaults, violence, harassment, or another form of workplace violence yearly. Some industries are more prone to workplace safety issues, with healthcare workers and social service workers experiencing an 8.2% workplace violence incident rate. However, regardless of risk factors, every industry should prioritize preventing workplace violence. Per the same study, American businesses lose an average of $250 to $330 billion yearly because of workplace violence. It’s imperative for employers to develop workplace violence prevention programs as part of their business plans. MP’s HR experts share five often-overlooked considerations for preventing violence in every work environment.
5 Overlooked Workplace Violence Considerations
1. Workplace violence includes sexual harassment and harassment related to protected classes.
When employers think about workplace violence, they often assume it always consists of a need for emergency departments and law enforcement. However, workplace violence prevention should also focus on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and any applicable state anti-discrimination laws. These laws prohibit managers, coworkers, customers, etc., from harassing an employee based on a protected class. Protected classes include:
- National origin
It’s important for employers to take behavior like this seriously, as it could increase their liability. Beyond addressing harassment in the workplace violence policy, employers should also plan to provide education and training on this topic to their employees and managers. In addition to reducing legal risk and preventing workplace violence, employers should prioritize this behavior because it damages company culture. Employees should feel safe and accepted in their workplace, regardless of their background. An inclusive company culture attracts top talent, is more innovative, and improves employee engagement and employee retention in the long run.
2. Preventing workplace violence is critical for compliance and the viability of the business.
Under the General Duty Clause of the OSHA Act, an employer must provide staff with a workplace free from recognized hazards causing, or likely to cause, serious physical harm or death. Failure to comply will dramatically increase an organization’s legal risk. Courts have held employers legally responsible when their employees, patients, and customers sustain injury from workplace violence. Beyond legal risk and liability lawsuits, just one violent incident may trigger major costs, including:
- Lost business
- Damage to the company’s reputation
- Higher insurance rates
- Depleted productivity
- Loss of talent and the ability to land and attract new talent
- Repair or cleanup of the workplace
The costs of workplace violence can be staggering and long-lasting. In some cases, they may even shut down a business completely.
3. When screening applicants and employees, organizations must factor in state laws.
As a method of preventing workplace violence, employers may try to screen and identify employees or candidates who are potentially violent. This tactic is effective, but employers must perform it cautiously. Employers should check with their (or their employees’, if working in other locations) state websites for legislative requirements. Additionally, they may want to work with HR experts (such as MP’s team) or employment lawyers to ensure their practices are compliant with federal and state laws related to:
- fair employment acts
When employers have applicants and employees in various states, they must comply with the state laws in which their applicants or employees live and/or work. Many states have passed laws in the past five to ten years regarding when, where, and how employers may drug test job applicants and employees. States may also have restrictions on the use of polygraph tests. State-specific fair employment acts, which protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination. Regarding defamation, employees or applicants must be able to prove a public disclosure of false statements, which the employer knows to be incorrect. They may also be able to demonstrate a “reckless disregard for the truth.” In some cases, employees or applicants may claim an invasion of privacy. This claim would require “public disclosure of private facts, which would be objectionable to a reasonable person with ordinary sensibilities.” To avoid claims of defamation, employers should keep the hiring process (and everything they discover during it) confidential—both inside and outside the organization.
4. Employers with liability insurance carriers should consult them when developing workplace violence policies.
Employers with liability insurance carriers should learn how to reduce their liability and costs. For example, some organizations may want to allow employees to bring guns to work—or leave them in their cars in the parking lot. The local workforce may demand this option in some areas because it’s so ingrained in the culture. Employers allowing guns at work could significantly increase their insurance liability and premiums. The way organizations develop a workplace violence policy could create significant financial consequences.
5. Employers without liability insurance should take these steps ASAP.
As bullet two noted, the cost of workplace violence may be astronomical– sometimes shutting a business down completely. Organizations that don’t have the added cushion of liability insurance should be especially vigilant about preventing workplace violence. They will bear a much higher cost if there is an incident. To prevent workplace violence, all employers should take these steps:
- Analyze the workplace for risks.
- Create a supportive company culture. Ensure everyone feels welcome and embraced. Encourage open communication between employees and managers.
- Provide training to managers to help them be more empathetic, supportive leaders.
- Establish a strong, comprehensive workplace violence policy. Roll it out to employees and managers.
- Create an action plan to prevent workplace violence. Share it with employees and managers.
- Provide employees and managers with workplace violence and safety training.
- The Four-Day Work Week: 6 Important Considerations
- Developing a Noncompete Agreement: 4 Best Practices for 2022, Part 2
- 2022 HR & Payroll Buyer’s Guide Checklist
- Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERC) Case Study | C+W
- Developing a Noncompete Agreement: 4 Best Practices for 2022, Part 1
- ACA (5)
- BizFeed (6)
- Business Strategy (115)
- COBRA (5)
- Compliance (114)
- COVID-19 (93)
- Diversity (11)
- eBooks (19)
- Employee Engagement (31)
- Employee Handbooks (21)
- ERTC (29)
- FFCRA (7)
- HR (250)
- MP Insider (13)
- Payroll (56)
- PFML (9)
- PPP (24)
- PTO (5)
- Recruiting (44)
- Remote Work (39)
- Return to Work (33)
- Unemployment (1)
- Wellness (21)
- August 2022
- July 2022
- June 2022
- May 2022
- April 2022
- March 2022
- February 2022
- January 2022
- December 2021
- November 2021
- October 2021
- September 2021
- August 2021
- July 2021
- June 2021
- May 2021
- April 2021
- March 2021
- February 2021
- January 2021
- December 2020
- November 2020
- October 2020
- September 2020
- August 2020
- July 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- April 2020
- March 2020