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Internal External  workplace violence

Basic recommendations for preventing violence in the workplace

Risk Factors of Workplace Violence
7 Prevention Measures to take BEFORE Workplace Violence happens
11 Recommendations for Victims DURING an Incident of Workplace Violence
10 Measures to Take AFTER an Incident of Workplace Violence

Risk Factors of Workplace Violence

UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) Sociology of Work Professor Angelo Soares has identified several social and organizational factors that may foster the outburst of violent incidents at work:

7 Prevention Measures to take BEFORE Workplace Violence Happens

The following are seven useful recommendations to help you prevent and resolve conflicts that could emerge within your organization.

  1. Adopt and promote a prevention and reparation policy against harassment.

  1. Establish clear codes of conduct.
  1. Organize awareness and training sessions.
  1. Do not allow conflicts to escalate into harassment or acts of violence.
  1. Set up effective lines of communication.
  1. Pay special attention to the quality of relationships among members of a work team.
  1. Encourage the acceptance of individual differences.

11 Recommendations for Victims DURING an Incident of Workplace Violence

The following recommendations are intended to help victims thwart the manoeuvres of an aggressor in most incidents of external workplace violence.

  1. Do not provoke the aggressor or group of aggressors: by staying calm and keeping your cool, you avoid working up the aggressor and igniting tension.
  2. Be firm and give short answers such as "Yes. No. That’s possible." Speak clearly and slowly without raising your voice.

  3. Do not argue or contradict the aggressor. Listening calmly to your aggressor will help him or her blow off some steam.

  4. Leave the product or documentation that causes the aggressor’s frustration alone. Picking it up could make matters worse.

  5. If possible, try to bring the discussion back to the problem at hand. Try to be understanding and to resolve the conflict by proposing a solution that gives the aggressor an honourable way out.

  6. If possible, ask for help from a co-worker if, after a few minutes and several attempts at conciliation, your aggressor does not calm down. An aggressor’s unpredictable behaviour is often caused by alcohol or drug use.
  7. Avoid physical retaliation at all costs, unless it is your last resort in self-defence. If you feel threatened, give the aggressor what he/she wants.

  8. Never put your own safety at risk. Maintain a reasonable distance from the aggressor. Avoid any sudden movements or any seemingly threatening gestures such as pointing your finger.

  9. Take notes about each episode of violence: date, time, place, behaviour (whether it was a repeated attack, whether you were alone or isolated, humiliating remarks, injustice, abuse, etc.), names of witnesses and other useful information.

  10. Talk about the incident with co-workers you trust or family members. If they witnessed the incident, ask them to take down notes about the behaviour of the aggressor or group of aggressors.

  11. If necessary, screen your calls; keep track of names, dates and messages.

10 Measures to Take AFTER an Incident of Workplace Violence

  1. Encourage the victim to denounce the aggressor and file a formal complaint.

  2. Ask the victim to write a report on the aggressor from the notes taken on each episode of violence: date, time, place, behaviour (whether it was a repeated attack, whether they were alone or isolated, humiliating remarks, injustice, verbal or physical abuse, etc.), names of witnesses and other useful information. Use an Event Report Form.

  3. Conduct an investigation on the aggressor or group of aggressors.

  4. If you feel it is important, do not hesitate to inform the police about the event and give precise details.

  5. Make sure that proper legal and disciplinary measures are taken against the aggressor or group of aggressors.

  6. Activate the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), including counselling from psychologists and other experts through individual consultation, group therapy or telephone help lines.
  7. Set up measures to help the victim take control and go back to work: encourage the victim to talk about the ordeal with co-workers, superiors, family members and friends, and to seek their comfort and support.

  8. Offer support in indemnity claims or legal matters involving the victim as well as other employees and/or family members concerned.

  9. Keep a record of all workplace violence incidents in the organization. Document all incidents to be able to analyze and identify sensitive sectors that are more vulnerable or exposed to violence.

  10. Strengthen existing prevention measures after determining how and why the workplace violence occurred despite the prevention measures.

 

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