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How to React to Threats and Potential Workplace Violence

Take steps to prevent workplace violence and prepare your business and employees to deal with workplace violence if it does occur. Provide your employees with a safe, secure workplace where violence is unlikely to erupt:

  • Limit access to the office through the use of passwords or cardkeys.

  • Make sure parking lots or garages are well lit and monitored.

  • Provide a place where employees can store valuables.

  • Limit the amount of cash on the premises.

  • Establish protocols for emergencies.

These items address dangers that may come from outside of the company. To protect your staff from threats from within, you should

  • Implement a strict policy regarding violence. Make sure your employees understand that certain behaviors — physical and verbal threats, aggressive gestures, harassing behavior — will never, under any circumstances, be tolerated.

  • Watch for volatile situations. The chance always exists that an upset employee will react violently to disciplinary action, notice of suspension, or termination.

  • Conduct thorough reference checks before hiring. Be very careful in your screening process of candidates. Check references, and if something suspicious comes up, get as much information as possible before making a hiring decision.

  • Provide counseling or similar assistance. Let your employees know that they can seek counseling. When contracting with healthcare providers, check whether their benefits include a toll-free crisis line or access to seminars that help employees deal with the stresses of life in and out of the office.

Watch for these signs that may be precursors to violence:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse problems

  • Frequent displays of anger, abusive language, or threats of violence

  • Any attempt to bring a weapon into the workplace

  • Extreme behavior

It’s better to be safe than sorry. If an employee threatens violence — whether or not any violence is actually carried out — you can fire the person immediately.

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