Friday, June 21, 2013

Workplace Violence

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence refers to incidents whereby people are assaulted, abused or threatened on issues related to their work causing implicit or explicit challenge to their well-being (Smith, 2012). Some of the most common forms of workplace violence include expressing a threatening behavior such as throwing objects or shaking fists, expression of an intention to cause harm, harassment, verbal abuse and physical abuse. However, workplace violence does not only refer to incidents which occur within a traditional work environment. Work-related violence is likely to occur at other places such as during social events that are related to work or at clients` homes. There has been an increase in cases of workplace violence in recent years.

There are certain factors and processes that put people at higher risks of workplace violence. Some of the factors include dealing with the public, handling of money, carrying out enforcement or inspection duties and working in areas where alcohol is sold. This essay seeks to analyze the problem of workplace violence and the possible remedies.

Workplace violence is one of the major causes of job-related deaths and it has become a major concern for many employees and employers across the world (Bruce & Nowlin, 2011). Millions of people are victims of this form of violence. Workplace violence can occur at any place and no single person is immune. However, some of the workers are at higher risk of violence. People working in sectors such as those that involve the exchange of money with members of the public, those who work in small groups or alone during late night, high-crime areas as well as community settings. They include social service workers and healthcare providers, community workers, taxi drivers among others.

One of the most common forms of workplace violence is sexual harassment. This is a situation whereby a person is sexually coerced or inappropriately promised a reward in exchange of sexual favors (Smith, 2012). Sexual harassment is illegal in most parts of the world but it is still widely practiced. The world population has rapidly grown in recent years exerting pressure on the economic resources. The level of unemployment is so high leading to low living standards. Young people are desperate for jobs as they are increasingly becoming scarce every year.

Most of the managers are taking advantage of this situation to ask for sex in exchange for jobs or promotions, especially from ladies. This has become one of the most difficult problems to deal with since many people are desperate. Young people looking for employment favors are forced to have sex with their seniors for fear of loosing their jobs.

Some of the employers also treat their workers in an inhuman way. Employees also have rights and they should be treated like any other human being in the society. Rules should be implemented to protect employees from any form of harassment within the organization. All members of staff should be involved in decision-making to ensure fairness. This will also reduce interpersonal conflicts brought about by diversity. The modern world is characterized by increased connectivity which has led to diversity in the workplace. Employees are drawn from different background leading to a wide variety of perceptions that are likely to cause conflicts among the employees (Wilmot et al, 2010). Disagreements among colleagues are major causes of workplace violence which eventually affect organizational performance.

The human resources are the most important assets for any organization. All the company operations are coordinated and executed by human beings. It is therefore very important for employers to protect their workers against any form of work-related violence. One of the best protection methods that employers can use to safeguard their workers is to develop zero-tolerance policies towards workplace violence (Smith, 2012). A separate violence prevention program should be developed or the accident prevention program can be extended to include workplace violence. This should be included in the employee handbook and operations manual to ensure that all members of the organization are familiar with the rules. It is very important for all the employees to know details of the policy including possible remedies incase violence occurs. Safety education should be provided to employees to enable them know what is acceptable, steps to be taken incase of any violence and how to protect themselves from violence.

The employers should ensure the working environment is secure at all times. The modern technology enables organizations to easily monitor works by using video surveillance. There should also be alarm systems, enough lighting, electronic keys, guards and minimal access by outsiders (Bruce & Nowlin, 2011). The cash safes can be used to minimize the amount of cash money that is handled at any given time. The field staff should be equipped with mobile phones and alarm devices to enable them raise an alarm incase of any problem. A daily work plan should be developed and employees should always keep the contact person informed about their location. Employees should not enter unsafe places and police escort should be availed when visiting potentially hazardous places.

Some of the work related violence is likely to cause trauma and stress to the victim. Counseling and stress debriefing sessions should be conducted to help victims recover from the incident. Investigation should always be carried out into any violent incident to identify the cause and implement corrective measures. Employee meetings should be held on a regular basis to discuss any changes in the program.

On their part, employees should learn how to determine, diffuse or avoid situations that are potentially hazardous. The supervisors should always be alerted about any safety concerns and all incidents should be reported immediately in writing. Employee should also avoid travelling into unfamiliar locations alone if possible and only the minimum amount of many should be carried (Bruce & Nowlin, 2011). Incase workplace violence occurs; employees should be encouraged to report to the relevant authority for action to be taken. Prompt medical diagnosis and treatment should be provided to minimize the effects. The employer should engage employees in discussion about the incident and encourage them to share their views on how to avoid similar situations. It is also very important for victims to be informed about their legal right of prosecuting perpetrators.

Several countries have formulated laws to protect employees from any form of harassment. The law requires the employers to take reasonable precautions for the protection of health and safety of workers. Canada, for example, has implemented specific prevention regulations for the workplace violence. In the United States of America, there is a general duty clause within the Occupational Safety and Health Act which recognizes violence threats (Menendez et al, 2012)). California has also formulated legislation which requires employers to have an injury prevention plan and specific laws have been developed to combat violence in the hospitals.

Bruce, M. D., & Nowlin, W. A. (2011). Workplace Violence: Awareness, Prevention, and Response. Public Personnel Management, 40(4), 293-308. Menendez, C., Foley, M., & Rauser, E. (2012). Evaluating progress in reducing workplace violence: Trends in Washington State workers' compensation claims rates, 1997-2007. Work, 42(1), 67-81. Smith, S. (2012). When Words Fail: Workplace Violence and Communication. EHS Today, 5(6), 69-71. Wilmot, W. W., Hocker, J. and Locker, J. L. (2010): ‘Interpersonal Conflict’ McGraw-Hill