Workplace Safety: Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

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We have watched many horrific events take place over the past ten years that has built a social norm among-st all of us and unfortunately, these are ones of apathy and numbness to our everyday surroundings.  Today, our workplaces are a place of disillusioned safety.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, FBI and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 14,770 workplace homicide victims between 1992 and 2012, averaging over 700 homicides per year.  Homicide is the second-leading cause of death for women in the workplace, accounting for 22% of all fatalities, compared to 8% for men.

The harsh truth is that life has changed for us all and some are handling the heightened stress better than others.  They are reaching a tipping point and when enough stress points collide together in their life, they snap!  The expert authority figures provide us with things to be on the lookout for such as increasing belligerency, hypersensitivity, changed behavior, obsessive speak about a coworker or boss, or outside of work life events.  These are great things to be on the watch for each day, but that would require employees to be hyper alert with their everyday surroundings.   How do you change the social norm that has devoured us all like a giant whale?  And even if you could change us, how do you prepare for the darkness that one day might show up on your doorstep with no warning and begin showering his/her darkness on the lives of your employees?

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger, III is a retired airline captain best known for saving the lives of 155 passengers in 2009 when the aircraft was disabled by a flock of geese and he safely landed the plane in the Hudson River.  This heroic event was accomplished not in the moments that the geese hit the aircraft, but in the thousands of hours of preparation spent by Sullenberger on the craft of being a pilot.  He understood that in order to be the best it was not in preparing for the known but the unknown.  There are 3 workplace safety precautions that organizations can do to prepare for the unknown.

3 Workplace Safety Precautions

This might be something that is on your to do list, but has been pushed to the bottom due to all the other stake holder requests that are taking up all of your time.  The moment this horror becomes a truth in your world, it will be too late to make it a priority.

#1 Develop a Crisis Management Team

The Crisis Management Team should consist of a human resource member, executive management member, legal advisor, and a selected employee.  This group will develop the workplace violence policies and will be the working body if such an event should occur.  They should have created a plan that is implemented for every possible scenario, along with continued tests of each plan in order to be well prepared.

#2 Train Managers

The individuals within the organization that know the daily pulses of the employees are the front line managers.  These individuals should be trained heavily on how to recognize personality changes in employees that could be warning signs of potential workplace violence.  The employee selected for the Crisis Management Team can be tasked with once a month training sessions with the managers on “How to Plan for the Unknown.”

#3 Assess Security Issues

The legal advisor, along with the human resource member on the Crisis Management Team should handle all security for the company.  They should know how the security systems in the building operate and the procedures and protocols for entering and exiting the building.  There should be an ongoing training session with all employees on these policies and procedures.  In addition, the employees should have to confide in the human resource member related to any instability or threats occurring in their personal lives.  Transparency should be clearly communicated to everyone within the organization.

Make the Workplace a Safe Environment

It is one of the most disheartening occurrences to learn that deaths could have been avoided if someone had taken the precautionary measures to ensure everyone’s safety.  We live in a world that affords us numerous options of technology for offering our inner walls protection from the unknowns.  These precautions should be in place within every organization and at the top of the to do list this year, if not.  The workplace homicides statistics are not shrinking each year, but instead growing as everyday life continues to twist the tourniquet down on people. “One is not exposed to danger who, even when in safety is always on their guard.”  There are so many things you should put off until tomorrow, but workplace safety is not one of them.

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