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Crime Prevention > Personal Safety

Safety in the Home | Safety in the Workplace | Safety on the Street | Safety While Travelling | Senior Safety | Professional Home Visitors | Protecting Yourself From Sexual Assault

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Safety In the Workplace

According to a recent report, Canada has one of the world’s highest rates of workplace assaults and sexual harassment. The report identified occupations with high incidences of violence. These occupations are health care providers, social workers, teachers, taxi drivers and people who work alone.

Fortunately, you can TakeAction to avoid becoming the victim of crime at work. Your best defense is to know and discuss what security measures are available through your employer. Additionally, you should take other necessary precautions to protect yourself and your valuables

SOURCES OF WORKPLACE VIOLENCE

The main sources of workplace violence can be classified as:

  • Robbery / Theft
  • Domestic Dispute
  • Employer / Employee Directed
  • Revenge

Common Types of Violence

  • Verbal Abuse
  • Disruptive Behaviour
  • Threats
  • Physical Violence
  • Sexual Harassment

PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT

  • A formal written policy statement on Workplace Violence should be developed and include sections on the following topics:
    • Commitment to Safety
    • Code of Conduct
    • Management Response Team
    • Reporting / Documenting
    • Training
  • Train Supervisors and employees to recognize warning signs of potentially violent persons
  • Educate all staff about workplace violence
  • Establish proper security procedures
  • Provide counseling and stress debriefing to staff members

SECURITY CHECKLIST

  • Provide a receptionist at the entrance to control access at all times
  • Escort all  visitors in and out of work areas
  • Encourage staff to challenge and assist any unaccompanied strangers they encounter in the workplace
  • Keep restrooms locked when not occupied
  • Have procedures in place for dealing with suspicious mail and packages
  • Have a prompt response to incidents of conflict in the workplace
  • Develop and use a crisis management plan

WARNING SIGNS

Be aware of the following warning signs of a potentially violent person.

  • Resists change
  • Sullen, angry and/or depressed
  • Identifies with or praises acts of workplace violence
  • Recently collected or obtained a weapon
  • Uses threats, intimidation and manipulation towards others
  • Paranoid - thinking others are out to get them
  • Over-reacts to criticism
  • Blames other people for their own mistakes
  • Has had recent police encounters
  • Has a history of assault
  • Other persons are afraid of, or apprehensive about this person

STAGES OF AGGRESSION

  • Person becomes anxious  or on edge
  • Displays negative attitude and/or behaviour (refusal to cooperate and questioning)
  • Verbal - physical release
  • Calms down

RESPONSES TO THESE STAGES

  • Show support and empathy for them
  • Be firm and set limits
  • Escape and get assistance
  • If future contact is expected, set firm ground rules

BE AWARE OF NON-VERBALS

Watch out for non-verbal clues that someone is becoming violent:

  • Personal space
  • Body language (clenching / unclenching fists)
  • Facial expressions
  • Tone of voice

TYPES OF THREATS

  • Direct - "I'm going to kill you"
  • Conditional - "If you report me - you'll regret it"
  • Veiled - "Be careful going home tonight, I know where you live"

Report and Document all threats immediately

DEALING WITH THREATS

DO:

  • Stay calm
  • Assess the situation
  • Agree with them
  • Report and document immediately

DON’T:

  • Panic
  • Beg or plead
  • Argue or escalate the situation
  • Minimize the threat
  • Fail to report the incident

RESPONDING TO INCIDENTS

The following are critical management steps:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Secure and control the area
    • Account for everyone in the area
    • Ensure their safety
    • Evacuate if required
  • Assist emergency crews
    • Have floor plans available if required
    • Have employee lists available
    • Have all departmental phone numbers on hand
    • Provide suspect information if relevant

WORKING ALONE

If you work shifts or work into the evening alone, take precautions to reduce your vulnerability and protect yourself:

  • Whenever possible, try to avoid working alone.
  • If you are required to work alone, develop a check-in system with a friend or family member and let them know you are okay. Give them instructions on what to do if you do not check-in on time (i.e., calling the police or a manager).
  • If you work in an office, make sure all doors and windows are locked. Turn on several lights to make it appear the building is occupied.
  • Let someone know when you are leaving, the route you will be taking and when you are expected to arrive home.
  • If possible, have someone escort you to your vehicle. Try to park your vehicle in a well-lighted location close to the door.

For more information and legal regulations on working alone, refer to the Government of Manitoba's Workplace Safety and Health Regulation 217/2006, Part 9: Working Alone or in Isolation.PDF Format - Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

Government of ManitobaVisit the Government of Manitoba Labour and Immigration Workplace Safety and Health Division page on Legislation regarding Workplace Safety.

OTHER SAFETY STEPS

Never give out personal information.

Your office should have a strict policy protecting you and other employees by not giving out personal information. This policy should include never providing a home phone number or address of an employee. Also, never disclose that a person is on vacation or on business travel. Take a message and advise the caller that the employee will return their call at a later date.

Never leave valuables (purses, laptops, cell phones, etc.) on a desk if you are away from them.

Take them with you or lock them away.  Never leave a wallet in a coat pocket.

Always keep money in a safe place.

Even if it’s only the coffee fund, never leave it in an unlocked drawer during the day. At night, put the money in a safe or remove it from the building altogether.

Watch for signs of unusual behavior.

It is very important to trust your instincts. If a client or co-worker makes you feel uncomfortable, discuss the situation with a supervisor or co-worker you trust.

If you feel threatened by the other person do not hesitate to call the police. Dealing with a potential problem in the early stages will often prevent the situation from escalating. Develop a plan to deal with potential problems.

Avoid confrontations with co-workers and be aware of the emotional climate at work.

Be assertive regarding any unwanted sexual attention at work. It is recommended that you keep a record of repeated incidents of sexual harassment. Report it to your employer.

In an emergency, get to safety and call the police immediately.

Never hesitate to call 911 in an emergency.

If you need more information or have any questions about Personal Safety In the Workplace, contact the Winnipeg Police Service Community Relations Unit at 204-986-6322 or via email.


If you would like a Police Officer to provide a Power Point Presentation on this topic you can forward your request via one of three ways:
  • email your request to wps-communityrelations@winnipeg.ca
  • fax your request to 204-957-2450
  • mail your request to:
    Unit Commander
    Community Relations Unit
    P.O Box 1680
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    Canada R3C 2Z7
Due to demand, we request you contact us at least six weeks prior to the event. Most presentations are one hour in duration and handouts are provided. The presentation is free of charge - room to be supplied by the organization requesting the presentation, with a minimum of 20 attendees.
 

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Last update: August 8, 2013

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