Prevent workplace violence

Each year, nearly two million American workers face threats, assaults or worse at the hands of customers, visitors and even coworkers. In fact, homicide is the top cause of workplace deaths among women.

The odds of violence rise among employees who handle money with the public, work alone or at odd hours, or visit crime-prone areas. They may be retail clerks or taxi drivers, visiting nurses or social workers, utility employees or cable TV installers. But even the safest white-collar office isn’t immune.

Workplace violence falls when employers and employees join to devise safety programs and strategies. As a start, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges a zero-tolerance policy for violence involving employees and anyone they meet on the job.

Here are steps you can take to feel safer on the job:

  • Know your employer’s workplace violence policies. What behavior is covered, how should you report it, and how is it handled?

  • Learn to recognize and defuse situations that could put you in harm’s way. Attending a personal safety program can help.

  • Tell your boss about security concerns. Suggest appropriate improvements, from extra lighting or video cameras to alarm systems or visitor access limits.

  • Recognize and report coworkers’ inappropriate behavior, such as bullying or harassment.

  • Take as little money and identification as you can when you visit community settings.

  • Try not to go into unfamiliar settings or situations by yourself if feasible.

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