Workplace Violence: Tips on Providing a Safe Office

People in office setting

Workplace violence among employees is a threat that all companies should be aware of and work to prevent.

In 2020, workplace assaults resulted in 20,050 injuries and 392 fatalities, according to Injury Facts®. Background screening before hiring can help find warning signs and prevent employers from hiring a known threat. Sometimes, though, the employee has no prior indications of violent behavior, and the employer must quickly figure out what to do in a threatening situation.

Immediate threat

If an employee poses an immediate threat, remove them from the workplace immediately.

A safe workplace is not only an employer’s ethical responsibility; it’s a legal one. Suppose there is any sign that an employee is capable of violence in the workplace or is behaving in a way that is overly disruptive or makes other employees feel unsafe. In that case, you should immediately remove that risk. Contact the police or building security to handle the situation if necessary.

Depending on the severity of the situation, additional safety measures may need to be taken. Such as limiting access to your office building, escorting employees to cars at the end of the day, or adding security guards. 

What’s next?

After removing the immediate threat, the employer has the difficult task of determining whether to continue the worker’s employment. Various factors come into play here, including the employee’s past behavior and if their return would compromise the safety of the workplace or coworkers. The company can potentially be liable for negligent retention if keeping an employee known to be violent.

At this point, you should seek counsel from your HR rep or, in some cases, legal counsel. 

If you’ve decided to terminate the violent employee:

  • Do not conduct the termination on company premises. It may even be best to eliminate all in-person contact at this point and perform the termination via phone. 
  • Do not engage in an argument; be straightforward and respectful, and answer any questions the employee has. 
  • Do not allow the terminated employee to reenter the premises. You can ship any personal belongings to the employee’s home. Again, seek additional security if needed.

Nextep experts are ready and willing to help with all your employment needs. If you need end-to-end HR, contact us today!

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