Are Workplace Violence and Harassment Safety Risks?

Posted by
Lance Roux
on Jul 22, 2021



When it comes to workplace safety, preventing injuries from accident hazards like falls, equipment and vehicles often take center stage.

However, workplace violence accounts for more deaths each year than many other workplace injuries – workplace electrocution fatalities are less than 200 per year yet workplace violence fatalities were 453 in 2018 and another 20,790 were injured in workplace violence incidents. Another area of concern is harassment – workplace injures are not only physical; mental health damage from harassment can be longer-lasting than physical injuries for employees. Is your company addressing workplace violence and harassment as safety risks?

Workplace Violence and OSHA Violations

There have been changes in how workplace violence is viewed. At one point, many employers considered workplace violence a society concern caused by rogue employees or unstable citizens, not an internal safety concern. Workplace violence was labeled an HR issue, not covered under safety protocols. This viewpoint has shifted, and employers are being held accountable for their role in maintaining a safe work environment for their employees, including actively preventing workplace violence under OSHA compliance standards.

In 2016, OSHA created a directive to address workplace violence as a safety compliance issue. While the directive targeted high-risk industries for workplace violence, it covers all employers. If there are workplace violence complaints or incidents and employers have not provided adequate safety training and prevention, OSHA can cite the employer for a safety violation.

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Workplace Harassment and Safety Training

Workplace harassment is usually covered under HR policies for most companies – it is against the law, thus against company policy. Another way to approach harassment concerns is from a safety concern and protecting employees from injury. An employee who is exposed to harassment in the workplace can suffer from mental health concerns that can affect their personal and professional life. Like a physical injury, it can impact their work performance and productivity. Keeping employees safe from harassment should be considered as much of a safety issue as preventing physical injuries.

Portraying harassment as a safety concern can bring new light to this complicated topic. Highlighting how harassment can jeopardize the right to a safe work environment may reach employees who have not absorbed previous HR trainings on harassment. Sometimes approaching a topic from a different angle can have a more profound effect and make a positive impact.

Safety Training for Preventing Workplace Violence and Harassment

Like all safety training, preventing workplace violence and harassment injuries to employees revolves around education. Discussing warning signs and steps employees can take to protect themselves and their co-workers from harm can be beneficial for preventing unnecessary violence and harassment. Reinforcing that violence and harassment are not tolerated at your company and giving employees tools to prevent or stop these harmful behaviors can protect your staff and your bottom line.

SafetyPro Resources have been providing safety training, management and staffing for years for our clients. We can help your company add workplace violence and harassment topics to your safety trainings to meet OSHA compliance and legal requirements. To learn more about all our safety training and compliance services, call our office in Baton Rouge, LA to speak to one of our safety experts.

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Tags: Mindfulness, Human Factors, Workplace safety

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