Is there truly a safe place to work in today’s world? Everyone deserves security while they work. On the nightly news, there have been more and more reports of someone killing family members and innocent bystanders at their place of employment. Someone who harbors resentment of another coworker, has family problems, health problems, or may have been dismissed from their job might return to their job site and take the lives of one, two, or several persons. The old days of leaving home with the doors unlocked, leaving the keys in the car, and all other innocent acts have long departed. An unspoken rule of thumb for these times is to be aware of your circumstances at all times, especially at your workplace.
Some jobs have a higher risk of incidents of this kind than others. Gas stations, convenience stores, and liquor stores are at the top of the chart for violence. Work sites such as these have constant contact with the public, exchange money, and are open late nights and early mornings, have small numbers of employees in place, and may be located in high crime areas. By reducing the amount of cash on hand, having no easy escape routes, security cameras, and adequate lighting, some crimes could be deterred. Other suggestions are to have closed circuit television, silent and personal alarms, time-release safes and most importantly, working in pairs.
There is no type of employment without risk. Homicide is the third leading cause of workplace deaths. Drug abuse, social issues, and poverty, are just some of the factors. Every business should have a workplace violence prevention program in place. Employees should be asked to take an active part in planning such a program. Their involvement is crucial because they are an important source of information about what’s happening on the front lines, especially those who work at night.
Proper screening, background checks, along with drug and alcohol testing during the hiring process could alert employers of a potential problem. A violent act could happen because there is a lack of security. Employees need to recognize a threatening situation and report it. It is better to act on it than ignore it. A horrible act of violence might be prevented by notifying company security or contacting law enforcement.
Although OSHA does not have standards or regulations concerning this topic, they recommend five key components that can benefit employers and employees alike:
- Management commitment and employee involvement
- Worksite analysis
- Hazard prevention and control
- Safety and health training
No single strategy solution that will work for all types of businesses, but potential risks of workplace violence should be identified and corrective measures implemented.