According to the National Safety Council, millions of Americans become victims of workplace violence each year. This has left many employers wondering how they would handle workplace violence within their organizations.

According to researchers, incidents of workplace violence are on the rise in America. Workplace homicides currently make up the fastest-growing category of murders. Each year alone, over 2 million workers are expected to report that they were the victims of workplace violence.

In 2015, there were 417 homicides in the U.S. workplace. Twenty-eight of those homicides where shootings. 

Researchers have even been able to classify the four types of violence that are occurring in places of work. They include:

  • Type 1: Criminal Intent
  • Type 2: Customer/Client
  • Type 3: Worker-on-Worker
  • Type 4: Personal Relationship

Workplace violence isn’t isolated to just one sector of the workforce. However, there are a few industries that experience a disproportionate number of homicides, nonfatal assaults, and violent attacks. 

These include:

  • Hospitals
  • Social assistance
  • Nursing and residential care facilities

There also several risk factors that are known to increase a person’s chance of becoming the victim of violence in the workplace. These risk factors, as posted on the OSHA website, include the following:

  • Contact with public
  • Exchange of money
  • Delivery of passengers, goods, or services
  • Having a mobile workplace (taxicab or police cruiser)
  • Working with unstable or volatile persons in health care, social services, or criminal justice settings
  • Working alone or in small numbers
  • Working late at night or during early morning hours
  • Working in high-crime areas
  • Guarding valuable property or possessions
  • Working in community-based settings

We also know that many cases of workplace violence go unreported. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine revealed yet another alarming fact. Many employers are not complying with OSHA record-keeping regulations. According to the study, 90% of employers failed to report incidences of workplace violence. Knowing all this, we can conclude that the actual workplace violence statistics are probably far worse than those being projected. 

Preventing and Preparing

If you are an employer, it is your legal and moral responsibility to protect your employees from workplace violence. In the unfortunate case that your business does become the site of workplace violence, you must work fast to report and remediate the situation. 

Here are some steps that you can take to prevent and mitigate workplace violence within your organization:

  • Identify workplace violence risk factors 
  • Establish a workplace violence policy 
  • Take proactive corrective measures to prevent and mitigate workplace violence
  • Introduce engineering and administrative control
  • Report workplace violence
  • Assist and support victims of workplace violence 
  • Restore damaged areas after a violent crime

Identify the Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

As we mentioned earlier, workplace violence can be incited by a client, a worker’s personal visitor, or even a random person. Still, the vast majority of workplace violence incidents involve employees. For this reason, employers must work to single out behaviors that might signal future violent behavior. 

According to the National Safety Council, the early warning signs of workplace violence include:

  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Unexplained absences
  • Behavioral changes
  • Suicidal comments
  • Resistance and complaint
  • Workplace violations
  • Heightened emotions, mood swings
  • Paranoia, delusions

Responding to Emergencies

Familiarize yourself with the DOL Workplace Violence Program’s regulations. They have established a three-level workplace violence recognition and response program. It teaches employers, managers, supervisors, and employees to recognize early warning signs of workplace violence, to appropriately escalate situations when need be, and to engage in an appropriate and swift emergency response. Check out the full policy here

What Is Workplace Violence?

California has developed legislation that defines workplace violence. The legislation lists:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Stalking
  • Unlawful acts of self-defense or defense of others

However, we also know that workplace violence can range from physical assaults to homicide. According to OSHA, workplace violence is “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors.“

The State of California’s workplace violence procedure code also lays out employee and employer rights when a violent incident occurs or is likely to occur. Unfortunately, even the most diligent and involved employers are not able to stop inevitable or random attacks. Employers usually don’t know how they could have avoided an incident until long after the crime has already occurred.

What to Do When Your Workplace Becomes the Site of Workplace Violence

Don’t wait till workplace violence hits you. Establish an emergency action plan to ensure that you and your employees are ready to handle challenging situations. Workplace violence can be anything from a scuffle between coworkers to a deadly mass murder. 

Many incidences of workplace violence produce biological hazards. These hazards may make your workplace unsuitable for employees who may already be overcome with trauma. 

As a biohazard remediation company, Eco Bear is prepared to remediate scenes that played host to violent and disturbing workplace violence episodes. We consider it our responsibility to make challenging experiences easier for our clients. As a result, our work often entails the safe and effective removal of biohazards.

 People typically need to take time to heal after witnessing a violent event. This is especially true for those that have witnessed violence within their personal workplaces and homes.  

Here’s What We Can Do for You

As professional crime scene cleaners, we clean, disinfect, deodorize, and dispose of all hazardous waste that is generated during violent incidents within workplaces. 

Our work involves the meticulous removal of blood, bodily fluids, and other biological materials. We utilize EPA-approved disinfectants, follow all OSHA cleaning regulations, and don extensive personal protective equipment.

We work hard to ensure that your workplace is free from harmful pathogens. We’re pleased to be able to offer you these services, even if they are only a small consolation during incredibly difficult times.

While we’re fixing material damages, here’s what you can do to support your employees during challenging times:

  • Offer counseling services to those who witnessed the violent incident
  • Utilize employee assistance programs to help the victims of the crime
  • Report the incident to local law enforcement and other agencies
  • Address any hazards that may remain in the workplace

There are 60 Victim Witness Assistance Centers throughout the state of California. Look for your county’s Victim Witness Assistance Center here

If you own or operate a small business, you may also wish to reach out directly to the Small Business Advocate:

  • Offer counseling services to those who witnessed the violent incident
  • Utilize employee assistance programs to help the victims of the crime
  • Report the incident to local law enforcement and other agencies
  • Address any hazards that may remain in the workplace

There are 60 Victim Witness Assistance Centers throughout the state of California. Look for your county’s Victim Witness Assistance Center here

If you own or operate a small business, you may also wish to reach out directly to the Small Business Advocate:

Small Business Advocate

P.O. Box 1348
Sacramento, CA 95812-1348

Kerensa Khan
(916) 491-6469
Kerensa.Khan@victims.ca.gov

 

If you’re the victim of workplace violence and you live in California, you have the support of the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB). This organization helps pay the bills and expenses that result form violent crimes. They can be reached at 1-800-777-9229. Applications can be sent to:

California Victim Compensation Board
P.O. Box 3036
Sacramento, CA 95812-3036 

Organizations like those listed above can provide emotional and legal counseling to employers and employees who may have been traumatized by a recent episode of workplace violence. 

What to Expect From Crime Scene Cleanup

If your workplace was the site of a non-fatal act of violence or homicide, you’re probably already facing your fair share of challenges. Hiring professional, prompt crime scene cleaners is your best course of action. You may even be able to file an insurance claim to help cover the costs of the remediation services. 

Many people assume that the police or emergency crews will take care of the aftermath of violent crimes. However, the cost and responsibility of crime scene cleanup are almost always shouldered by property or business owners. 

As a responsible employer, it is your job to act fast and with good intentions. Let us do the

 dirty work so that you can focus on your employees and businesses.

If your place of business has become the site of a violent episode, call Eco Bear at (818) 358-4359. As one of the leading biohazard remediation companies in Southern California, we’re happy to help to weather any act of workplace violence.