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
Employer / Employee Directed
Common Types of Violence
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
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
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
Be aware of the following warning signs of a potentially violent person.
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
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:
Body language (clenching / unclenching fists)
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
Assess the situation
Agree with them
Report and document immediately
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
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.
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 email us.
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:
Community Relations Unit
P.O Box 1680
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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