HR Management- Workplace Violence and Layoff’s. Due to an increase in recent employee layoffs because of economic conditions and the increased risk of workplace violence, as well as an increase in domestic restraining
Due to an increase in recent employee layoffs because of economic conditions and the increased risk of workplace violence, as well as an increase in domestic restraining orders that several employees have recently obtained against former spouses, company management has decided it is time to take a proactive position and develop a workplace violence action plan. There are many factors to consider, as your company has three locations and more than 500 employees.
If this was your company, what WOULD you do? Why is it the responsibility of HR to develop these types of strategies in coordination with the operational divisions?
For information to assist you in identifying workplace violence categories and prevention strategies, visit the website at www.fbi.gov.
A recent shooting in Illinois highlights the extreme level that workplace violence can attain.
According to an article from CNN, on February 15, 2019, an employee at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Illinois opened fire with a handgun after he was fired, killing five co-workers and wounding five police officers. The victims included a human resources manager, a human resources intern and a plant manager at the valve manufacturing company where the gunman worked for 15 years.
The article quoted Kathleen Bonczyk, the founder and executive director of the Florida-based non-profit Workplace Violence Prevention Institute,
“The point of termination is perhaps the greatest opportunity for deadly workplace violence.”
Bonczyk went on to note in the article that employers should look for warnings when first interviewing potential employees. These can include marital problems and domestic violence, previous disputes with co-workers, financial stress and drug and alcohol abuse.
Under federal law, employers have a legal obligation to maintain a safe work environment free of “recognized hazards” that are likely to result in serious injuries (29 U.S.C. § 654). OSHA interprets those safety hazards as including threats of workplace violence, which the agency defines as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”
While OSHA may impose fines for safety violations, but federal law does not give employees the right to sue employers who fail to provide a safe workplace.
However, it is in the best interests of every employer and manager to implement and follow policies and guidelines designed to minimize occurrences of workplace violence.
OSHA provides the following tips for employers:
■ Provide safety education for employees so they know what conduct is not acceptable, what to do if they witness or are subjected to workplace violence, and how to protect themselves.
■ Secure the workplace. Where appropriate to the business, install video surveillance, extra lighting, and alarm systems and minimize access by outsiders through identification badges, electronic keys, and guards.
■ Provide drop safes to limit the amount of cash on hand. Keep a minimal amount of cash in registers during evenings and late night hours.
■ Equip field staff with cellular phones and hand-held alarms or noise devices, and require them to prepare a daily work plan and keep a contact person informed of their location throughout the day. Keep employer provided vehicles properly maintained.
■ Instruct employees not to enter any location where they feel unsafe. Introduce a “buddy system” or provide an escort service or police assistance in potentially dangerous situations or at night.
■ Develop policies and procedures covering visits by home health-care providers.Address the conduct of home visits, the presence of others in the home during visits, and the worker’s right to refuse to provide services in a clearly hazardous situation.