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Technical Documentation: The Unlikely Solution to Workplace Violence

    a signed document, representing the importance of technical documentation in dealing with workplace violence

    The failure to prioritize workplace safety measures increases the risk of workplace violence. If employees are unaware of safety protocols, they cannot prepare for, or respond to, violence in the workplace. Today we will explore how adequate policies, automation tools, and documentation can protect companies and their employees from violence in the workplace.

    Let us begin!

    There are many misconceptions surrounding workplace violence. It is often believed that workplace violence only consists of physical altercations or violent incidents, such as mass shootings. Because of this, many businesses simply believe that these incidents will never happen to them. However, violence in the workplace encompasses much more than violent physical incidents, and can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal government agency responsible for enforcing standards that maintain a safe working environment for all individuals in the workforce, states that “workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” Companies that misunderstand what workplace violence entails will ultimately suffer from poor workplace safety practices, endangering their employees and business brand.

    Developing Workplace Violence Policies

    Employers are responsible for the safety of their employees. Developing a workplace violence prevention program starts with company policies and procedures, but often includes much more. This should include ways of enforcing a zero-tolerance policy that specifies what behavior is unacceptable in the workplace and the disciplinary actions that follow company rule violation. Additionally, it should establish a positive work culture that ensures employees have a support system willing to thoroughly address their concerns and makes their protection a priority.

    Policies

    Organizations tend to have policies that are often misunderstood because they are unclear or overcomplicated. Employers should make sure policies are easy to understand so employees can execute their work safely and successfully. Businesses should also have interconnecting policies that itemize every detail regarding how to appropriately handle violence in the workplace. While each policy varies depending on the business’s specific needs, all should communicate and address the following:

    • How is workplace violence defined?
    • What types of actions constitute workplace violence?
    • How should employees report inappropriate, unusual, or suspicious behavior?
    • What are the security measures in place at the workplace?
    • What resources are available for staff?
    • How should company personnel respond to external threats from patients, clients, visitors, or customers?
    • What are the communication policies among each level of your staff? 
    • What actions are to be taken following an incident of workplace violence?
    • How should workplace violence involving discrimination or harassment based on race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, or disability be addressed?
    • What is the investigative process of a reported claim?

    Training Programs

    Conflict resolution is at the heart of employee training and development. Training will help employees identify signs of abnormal or suspicious behavior and potential workplace violence. Furthermore, workers will learn de-escalation techniques helpful for handling a potentially violent situation, as well as discern when certain threats are out of their control. Training sessions should include all staff members and not focus solely on low-level employees. Every employee, regardless of department of level, benefits from this training.

    Action Plans

    Every business should have a workplace violence plan that outlines the policies and actions employees should follow before, during, and after a violent occurrence. Businesses that prepare for violence in the workplace must tailor their action plans to meet their specific needs. Developing strategies may include an emergency preparedness plan, a crisis management plan, an incident recovery response, etc. It is also important for employees to practice the emergency action plan so they are comfortable following the plan when an injury has occurred, when dealing with verbal threats, or when needing to communicate with local law enforcement.

    Assessment Team

    An assessment team is a group of experts that analyze, investigate, and determine the validity of potential threats to a workplace. Team members also monitor and track threatening situations to help aid in the corrective action process, so improvements can be made on existing and future policies and procedures.

    Remote Workplace Violence

    While society continues to navigate the pandemic, it’s unlikely that organizations have business continuity plans addressing remote violence in the workplace. Since many people are working remotely, one might assume violence in the workplace would decline. However, the toll of COVID-19 could exacerbate violent behaviors.

    For instance, essential workers and those in the healthcare profession are at a higher risk of being a victim of violence due to negative interaction with patients or customers refusing to follow COVID-19 mandates. As for remote work, individuals that suffer domestic and family violence no longer have the office to provide protection. The pandemic is unfortunately creating the perfect conditions for employees to experience increased violence. The stress and anxiety of the pandemic, the death of loved ones, job insecurity, unemployment, financial strain, hygiene guidelines, remote learning, and more may contribute to an individual lashing out violently, on-site or virtually.

    While organizations use traditional strategies previously mentioned to minimize the risk of violence at the workplace, there are also technological strategies that can help employees working remotely.

    How can automation help with violence in the workplace?

    There are numerous mobile apps, software, online training courses, and artificial intelligence designed to keep employees safe. Currently, there are mobile apps employees can use to report a workplace incident as soon as it happens. Other apps allow users to upload photos, videos, and audio of any suspicious behavior. Companies have also created Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools that can identify and flag harmful electronic messages in real-time. Businesses can also use artificial intelligence that has web listening tools to track, monitor, and store any data from the internet that may indicate a potential threat.

    Conclusion

    Creating a trustworthy and respectable workspace should be a top priority for every employer. Although it is difficult to stop these incidents from happening, businesses that implement workplace violence prevention strategies, effective policies & procedures, and automation technology can reduce the risk and impact of workplace violence, making your company a safer workplace for all employees.

    How EDC Can Help

    EDC has technical writers trained in technical writing, documentation, and digital communication. They can establish documentation systems that mitigate the risk of violence in your workplace by customizing workplace violence prevention strategies to ensure best practices in potential work emergencies. Essential Data Corporation also has experts in business training to assist employers looking to develop, modify, and implement workplace violence prevention training programs. EDC can also help by developing technical documentation to accompany your company’s automation technology.

    Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or sales@edc.us

    Written by Kimberly Jones

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