Topics On Everyone’s Tongues: Workplace Violence

2012 was a loaded year in the United States in terms of newsworthy stories. Some were historical, like Obama’s re-election and our country’s participation in the summer Olympic Games in London; some were exciting, like new states legalizing gay marriage and the landing of the Curiosity rover. Some, however, were purely eye-opening, like the unspeakable shooting at the Aurora theater – or how about the one that took place in the school in Newtown? As a matter of fact, it’s the more horrific of the events that tend to stick out in the minds of media consumers the most. And it’s these events that elicit important moral and political questions, such as ones about gun control and our society. Many are simply awakened by it, realizing they need to re-evaluate their own means of safety, whether it be in schools, in public, or in workplaces.

The Facts

The main argument that anti-gun control activists tend to make is that criminals will be criminals regardless of how we try to stop them. If a shooter has no disregard for other human lives, why would he or she have any regard for the law? And while some might think that this is no rationale for dismissing the need for gun control – it could have some effect, perhaps – it’s still a truth that needs to be taken into consideration. Should the strictest of gun laws be put into place, we still need to be aware of our surroundings.

What your Workplace can Do

The workplace is one of the many places that safety needs to be a priority. While safe habits should be formed in all aspects of day-to-day life, in order to practice specific conducts for safety, start with somewhere you spend much of your time.

For one, begin by making it clear that the workplace takes anti-violence quite seriously. Clearly outline the zero-tolerance policy for any type of harassment – verbal, physical, virtual, etc. – and the repercussions for engaging in it. Ensure that these punishments are always carried out.

Consider the fact that many people have legal permits to carry firearms, and whether or not you’d like to enforce a policy that does not allow them in the workplace. This is obviously only possible in some workplaces, but if you happen to work in one, will you terminate anyone who is caught bringing a weapon to work? Will you conduct searches? These are important questions to consider.

Make sure points of entrance and exit in the workplace are limited and secure. Keep any unused doors and windows locked at all times, and put a reliable security system into place (surveillance cameras, alarms). Test these security systems regularly.

Most importantly, hold regular trainings that inform employees about how to look for abnormal behavior in others. Create an environment in which employees are not afraid to bring an issue to human resources if they feel unsafe.

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