Proactive Strategies for Promoting a Safe and Respectful Workplace

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1 Proactive Strategies for Promoting a Safe and Respectful Workplace

2 Index Risks at Work Solutions at Work...3 CPI at Work...4 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety Tip #1: Promote a Workplace Culture That Values Respectful Interactions...5 Tip #2: Pay Attention to Behavioral Warning Signs...6 Tip #3: Consider Objects That Could Be Used As Weapons...7 Tip #4: Practice and Promote a Team Approach...8 Tip #5: Assess Your Work Environment...9 Tip #6: Pay Attention to Your Instincts Tip #7: Educate Staff About Relevant Response Protocol...11 Prepare Training : Respect, Service, and Safety at Work... 12

3 Risks at Work 1 Why are work settings worldwide increasingly vulnerable to violence? Just the reports of horrific incidents of violence have significantly impacted many people s sense of security at work. The resulting fear and anxiety have created a forum for both productive and unproductive dialog. Panic Versus Prevention While panic stimulates action or lack of action in some settings, prevention prompts initiative in others. Some employers react by planning for worst case scenarios, which often breeds an environment of increased vulnerability. Others react by proactively examining ways to reduce risks and motivating employees to become part of prevention efforts. Concern Versus Action Statistics can stimulate concern, but they don t always stimulate action. It is time to revisit workplace violence and realistically address the manageable variables by structuring a framework for proactive solutions.

4 Risks at Work 2 Certainly, physical violence is one of the leading causes of occupational injury and fatalities in the workplace. n According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics census of fatal occupational injuries, of the 5,559 fatal work injuries in 2003, 901 were homicides. (1) n Severe verbal abuse, incivility, and disruptive conflicts are also rising dramatically in workplaces around the world and have a significant financial impact. In Canada, the current estimated cost of replacing an employee dismissed in a conflict is 160% of his salary. (2) Bottom Line Impact Employers are paying millions of dollars each year as a result of the fear and risks associated with workplace violence. Whether through medical expenses, worker s compensation claims, time off for stress-related illnesses, loss of productivity, litigation, or absenteeism, employers are feeling the impact. Employee confidence is also diminishing, often due to uncertainty as to whether employers are taking measures to create safer environments.

5 Solutions at Work 3 Structuring a framework for proactive solutions begins with the employer. An employer s commitment to creating and maintaining a safe workplace culture is infectious throughout the organization. n Organizational Policies and Procedures, which clearly outline the expectations of all employees, are crucial for creating a framework of proactive employee involvement. n An organization s employee development protocol, which includes training that provides information and skill sets to meet expectations, prepares everyone for a role in prevention and productive problem solving. The risk of workplace violence... can be reduced. The impact of workplace violence... can be minimized. The prevention of workplace violence... requires a commitment... and a plan.

6 CPI at Work 4 CPI has been involved with employee training at thousands of proactive organizations worldwide. The philosophy, principles, and strategies of CPI s training programs have been widely embraced for their realistic approach to decision making and problem solving in promoting safer workplace cultures. n CPI has been actively involved in examining the issue of workplace violence for over 30 years. n CPI has learned through research, training, consultation, and resource development many essential elements that are in place at organizations committed to maintaining safe workplace environments. n CPI is dedicated to raising awareness, stimulating action, promoting long-term solutions, and supporting meaningful employee training in every workplace. Tips at Work: Attention to Safety CPI offers the following Tips at Work: Attention to Safety to raise awareness and facilitate communication. Not intended as an answer book or as a replacement for a well-developed employee training program, it is intended to help employers and employees revisit the risks and realities of workplace violence.

7 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 5 Tip #1 Promote a Workplace Culture That Values Respectful Interactions We all tend to be more respectful when we feel respected and valued by others. Feelings of disrespect breed discontent, anger, and can lead to violent acts. Make it an organizational priority to truly foster a respectful atmosphere. Communicate organizational values to: Be certain employees at all levels understand expectations relating to respect. Encourage leadership to model respectful attitudes and behavior. Embrace and value the diversity in your workforce. Respect employee privacy. Expect the best from every employee. Identify performance expectations which impact workplace respect. Develop employee resources for dealing with personal problems that may interfere with job performance. Utilize respectful supervisory practices in dealing with employee discipline. Recognize that internal attitudes and behaviors impact external customer satisfaction. Handle grievances thoroughly and promptly. Provide employees with information and development opportunities to improve understanding of their role in promoting respectful interactions.

8 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 6 Tip #2 Pay Attention to Behavioral Warning Signs Behavioral signals can provide awareness regarding someone s intentions. Pay attention to cues that may indicate distress or discontent. Some behavioral signals to consider and explore in preventive efforts may include: Significant changes in someone s normal behavior or routines. Sudden changes in expression, physical activity, or posture. Dramatic increase or change in voice volume or tone. Expressions that communicate extreme anger or distress. Communications of despair and hopelessness. Body posture that is intimidating or threatening. Verbal threats.

9 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 7 Tip #3 Consider Objects That Could Be Used as Weapons Be aware of objects in your immediate work area that could be used as weapons if someone becomes angry and violent. Be prepared to remove or secure any objects that may be thrown or used as weapons if a disruptive situation begins to escalate. For example: Desk supplies (pens/pencils, scissors, staplers, etc.) Books Chairs Lamps Telephones Electrical cords Coffee cups Computer and other work-related equipment Other objects or equipment specific to your work environment

10 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 8 Tip #4 Practice and Promote a Team Approach Successful efforts to minimize danger are rarely solo acts. Attempting to deal with a dangerous situation alone may increase danger. It is important to be aware of procedures for obtaining assistance from coworkers. In the absence of emergency alert systems, consider where other employees may be and how to make them aware of the situation as soon as you can safely do so. Your options may include: Shouting for help. Using whatever is available to create loud noise to call attention to an area. Initiating a predetermined signal. Activating your local emergency medical services system if necessary.

11 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 9 Tip #5 Assess Your Work Environment The physical work environment impacts employee health, safety, and well-being. It is important to thoroughly assess your work environment for safety-related risk factors. This includes parking lots, entryways, reception areas, work areas, and offices. The specific type of assessment will vary in each environment, but every environmental assessment will benefit from considering questions such as: Where could employees become isolated or most vulnerable? Is lighting adequate in all areas? Are there convenient, accessible emergency escape routes? Are first aid kits readily available? Do employees know what to do in the event of a life-threatening emergency? Is there a method to summon assistance that is reviewed and understood by all employees? Are procedures in place to report and resolve workplace safety concerns? Are all employees well-trained in these procedures? Are all employees encouraged and supported in discussing ways to create a safer environment whenever possible?

12 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 10 Tip #6 Pay Attention to Your Instincts Be aware of and trust your own internal warning system. Your body may send signals when it senses danger. If you become concerned and sense impending danger, talk to someone about it, follow procedures, and respond accordingly. Some instinctual signals may include: An increase in breathing rate. An increase in pulse. A sensation of pressure on your chest. An increase in perspiration. A sinking feeling in your stomach. An increase in sensory acuity. Please note: One or more of these signals may also indicate a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention. It may be necessary to activate your local emergency medical services system.

13 Tips at Work: Attention to Safety 11 Tip #7 Educate Staff About Relevant Response Protocol Information and familiar strategies can reduce unproductive responses to instincts that trigger fear. The type of information that should be available to all employees includes: A clear definition of a critical and/or violent incident. A protocol for reporting circumstances of concern or unusual incidents. Knowing roles and responsibilities in emergency situations. Appropriate procedures in the event of a violent situation. Ways to summon internal security personnel or response teams. How to activate alert systems including local emergency or medical services. Preventive measures. Ways to maximize safety and minimize risks in emergency situations.

14 Prepare Training : Respect, Service, and Safety at Work 12 For More Information n To discuss your needs with a Prepare Training Corporate Training Specialist or arrange a consultation, call or educate. empower. enrich. 1. OSHA. (2004, March). Safety and Health Topics: Workplace Violence. Retrieved from osha.gov/sltc/workplaceviolence/index.html 2. Arent Fox Attorneys at Law PLLC. (2001, June). New Poll Shows Fear of Workplace Violence: Survey by Employment Law Alliance Underscores Need for Policies and Training. Retrieved from arentfox.com/upandcoming/ pressrelease/pr2001/pr campbell/pr campbell.html 2005 CPI (reissued 2010). You may retain a copy of this material to be used solely for your personal, non-commercial use provided you do not remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from such material. As long as it is for your own personal use only, you may print copies of this information and store the file on your computer. You may also copies of this information to others only by using the link provided within the material specifically for such purpose. Any other use or redistribution is strictly prohibited. 10-PTP-WEB-003

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