HR Management & Compliance

Are You Training Employees to Help Prevent Violence in Your Workplace?

The material in today’s Advisor is adapted from BLR’s PowerPoint® training presentation Preventing Workplace Violence: What Employees Need to Know.

Workplaces mirror the society in which we live. The workplace reflects the best qualities of society—and some of the worst. One problem that the workplace shares with the rest of society is violence.

Although the risk of workplace violence may be small, any workplace might be vulnerable. Therefore, training your employees on how to prevent potential violence in your workplace is of vital importance. There are several objectives such training should have. When the training is complete, employees will be able to:

  • Identify the causes of workplace violence.
  • Spot the signs of potential violence and immediate threats.
  • Follow required security procedures.
  • Respond effectively to threats and violence.
  • Recognize and respond to terrorist threats.

Federal Requirements

There are currently no specific standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplace violence. However, OSHA says that the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act applies to workplace violence. The General Duty Clause requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” Clearly, workplace violence is such a recognized hazard.

Confused about guns-at-work laws? Looking for training on this critical issue? Look no further than BLR’s December 17 webinar “Guns-at-Work Laws: A Legal Obligation and Liability Primer for Employers.” Find out more here.

State Requirements

Several states have enacted laws that specifically apply to employers and violence in the workplace. Two of the main areas covered by these laws are the carrying of concealed weapons and the duty to retreat from deadly force.

Most of the states that have laws that specifically apply to employers allow employers to prohibit the possession of certain weapons on their private property if notice is posted or if consent is obtained. Some of these state laws have an exception for weapons in vehicles in parking lots whether they are public lots or private property owned by the employer. Several states have laws in place that specifically state that a person in the workplace can use reasonable force, which may include deadly force, to protect his or her own or another’s life and has no duty to retreat to avoid doing so.

States such as Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Texas have passed laws that prohibit or specifically establish an individual’s right to possess a firearm, including keeping a gun in a car in a parking lot at work. On the other hand, states such as California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York have established laws that grant job protection and leave to employees who are victims of domestic violence at work or at home, sexual assault, and other violence.

Customize your training to cover your own state’s requirements pertaining to violence in the workplace, including gun laws and domestic violence laws.

Are news headlines making you nervous about the potential for gun violence in your workplace? Get valuable information to protect your workplace at BLR’s upcoming webinar, “Guns-at-Work Laws: A Legal Obligation and Liability Primer for Employers.” Learn more.

Training Requirements

To be effective, your workplace violence training program should contain, at a minimum, the following elements:

  • Perpetrators of workplace violence
  • Effects of workplace violence
  • Costs of workplace violence
  • Causes of workplace violence
  • How to spot signs of potential or imminent violence
  • How to defuse potentially violent situations
  • Workplace security measures to prevent violence
  • Safety after hours
  • Personal safety
  • Terrorist threats
  • Cyberterrorism
  • Terrorist weapons
  • Safe mail handling
  • Response to terrorism
  • Evacuation or shelter-in-place procedures
  • Aftermath of violence

Trainer qualifications. The person conducting the training must be knowledgeable in the subject matter covered by the elements contained in the training program and as it relates specifically to the workplace that the training will address.

Audience. All employees should receive violence prevention training.

Training frequency. Employees should be trained when hired and periodically thereafter. Retraining is recommended following any violent incidents or threats of violence.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll include a workplace violence training exercise that you can use, plus we’ll get a sneak peak at an upcoming dynamic and relevant BLR® webinar on guns-at-work laws.

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