Violence within the workplace is something that can be overlooked. In general, people think that these cases are extremely rare and that it won’t happen to them. However, the world that we live in is far from harmonic. Therefore, it is essential, whether you are an employer or employee, that you protect yourself from workplace violence as best as you can.

Workplace violence can range from verbal abuse/threats to physical assault or even (in the worst case scenario) death. Some workers have a higher risk than others when it comes to violence in the workplace. These could include:

  • People who work in banks and handle money
  • People who work late at night/early in the morning
  • Those who deliver passengers or goods.
  • Those who work within the community and have extensive contact with the public
  • People who work in high crime areas.

The good news is that there are a number of steps that both employers and employees can take in order to reduce these risks. As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your workers. This includes doing the best you can to ensure they are in a safe working environment. You can offer the following precautions to your employees:

  • Ensure you have an Employee Handbook in place for all employees, outlining that no violence whatsoever is permitted in the workplace.
  • Encourage employees to report and log any incidents/threats of violence.
  • Make the workplace secure – for example, security guards, CCTV, extra lighting and alarm systems.
  • Keep any extra cash in safes, rather than in tills/cash registers. If possible, empty tills/cash registers completely in the evening.
  • Instruct your employees never to enter a situation/location in which they feel unsafe.
  • If necessary, equip your employees with work phones/handheld alarms to make them feel more secure.

 As an employee, there are steps you can take yourself to minimise the risk of workplace violence:

  • Learn how to assess and avoid potentially violent situations by asking your employer to send you on a Personal Safety Training Program.
  • Make your employer aware of any potentially violent situations that arise.
  • Avoid entering into unfamiliar locations/situations wherever possible.
  • If ever you are in a community setting, carry as little money/identification on your person as possible.
  • Remain professional and composed in any conflicting situation in the workplace – whether dealing with a customer or another employee.

It is impossible to prevent workplace violence completely, but if both employers and employees follow the above steps, then the company you work for will be at a much lower risk, making your company a much safer place.