Health / Safety / Risk Mgmt
Today’s workplace has its own brand of bully. Instead of fists and feet, the adult bully uses an array of psychological tactics to exert control. But interestingly, adult bullies rarely view themselves as powerful.
They may even be overwhelmed – overreacting to minor setbacks, or interpreting everyday occurrences as personal slights.
And the bully at work may or may not have authority; however you might find yourself motivated to appease this individual to avoid insults, criticism, or even emotional outbursts.Workplace bullying extracts a steep price from the entire workforce. Both victims and witnesses – as well as the perpetrators – of workplace bullying suffer reduced morale, anxiety, and decreased job satisfaction. With workplace incivility and conflict on the rise, mediation and dispute resolution programs have become a necessary resource at work.
In fact, many organizations now take a proactive approach by providing training to help workers better manage anger, cope with stress, deal with conflict, enhance interpersonal communications, and improve negotiation and problem-solving skills.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Created workplace Violence Guideline which helpse educate their personnell how to take the approriate steps to ensure a safe and positive Work Environment. We have included a link to the download at the bottom of this page.
PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THIS HANDBOOK
The purpose of this handbook is to provide guidance to employees of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on managing violent or potentially violent situations. It is intended to help employees become aware of the potential for violence in the workplace, to increase their ability to recognize early warning signs of potentially violent situations, and to understand how to respond to actual or potential incidents. This handbook also provides some prevention ideas. Finally, some additional resources are included for those who want to learn more.
This guidance is general in order to address the wide array of occupations and locations in HHS. It is recognized that many sites and operations have unique risk factors that should be addressed with an expanded strategy.
All employees (including officers of the Commissioned Corps) and all facilities of HHS are covered by the policies and guidance provided in this handbook. Certain portions of this text may also apply to contractors and visitors to HHS buildings.
Violence is a complex phenomenon that impacts the workplace in a number of ways. While many think of workplace violence as the sensational multiple homicides they see on the television, those events represent a very small portion of the incidents that make up workplace violence. The majority of incidents in the workplace involve assaults, domestic violence, stalking, harassment (including sexual), bullying, and other emotional abuse. These types of incidents rarely show up in the headlines and are often not even reported to agency management.
Data on workplace violence is sketchy but all the experts agree the number of incidents is vast and the cost of violence to organizations is staggering.
- ØThe number of violent deaths in the workplace seems to be declining for a number of reasons. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 516 deaths in 2006, down from 632 in 2003 and from an average of 800 yearly in the 1990s.
- ØA Bureau of Justice Statistics report estimated there was an average of 1.7 million violent victimizations per year in the workplace each year from 1993-1999.
- ØEstimates of the cost to businesses due to workplace violence are less exact but, by most expert accounts, it runs into the billions of dollars.
It is impossible to overstate the costs of workplace violence, because a single incident can have such sweeping repercussions. There is the immediate and profound loss of life and agonizing psychological repercussions to the victim’s family, friends and co-workers. There is the loss of productivity and morale that sweeps through an organization after a violent incident. There is the public relations impact on a company when news of violence reaches the media. And increasingly, there is significant cost to organizations when a court finds them guilty of negligence. (from “Workplace Violence: First Line of Defense,” The Employment and Labor Law Series)
Workplace violence affects other areas as well. The adverse impacts on organizations and individuals are wide-ranging and include:
- Øpsychological damage:
- osubstance abuse
- Ømental health services
- Øsurvivor guilt
- Øproperty damage, theft and sabotage
- Øproductivity impediments:
- oincreased turnover
- olower morale
- Ødiversion of management resources:
- oresponse to crisis and problems
- ocostly litigation
- Øincreased security costs
- Øincreased workers’ compensation costs
- Øincreased personnel costs (employment, training)
There are many theories about the causes of workplace violence. Research indicates that the probability of workplace violence increases if a number of risk factors are present. These include dealing with the public and the exchange of money. Research at NIOSH also describes increased risk in certain work settings such as hospitals and convenience stores. Other researchers attribute it to the violent culture in society as a whole. The availability of guns, an inefficient criminal justice system, an unstable economy, instability of home and family life, and the glamorization of violence by the media are mentioned frequently as contributors to violence.
The work environment can also influence the probability for threats and violent behavior. Some of the problems frequently found in workplaces where violence has occurred include chronic labor/management disputes, a rigid authoritarian style of management, insensitive terminations, high number of stressed personnel, improper handling of grievances, lack of consistency in handling personnel matters, ineffective communication, insufficient attention to physical security, and understaffing.
Finally, violence is often associated with factors related to the individual perpetrator. An individual who commits such acts may have a history of domestic violence, mental health or substance abuse problems, be a loner, have low self-esteem, have a victim mentality, be under extreme stress, or externalize blame or disappointment. It is important to avoid profiling or stereotyping individuals or organizations, however. The presence of any of the above factors does not necessarily indicate a violent act will be carried out. An incident can be the result of any one or a combination of these factors.
The first part of the handbook will explain the nature of violence, including commonly used definitions, and the roles of various HHS staff in addressing the issue (Chapters 1, 2, and 3). Next, the workplace violence policy of this Department is provided as well as information about other policies and procedures which impact these situations (Chapter 4). The next chapters will help employees understand the indicators of a violent or potentially violent situation and how to respond (Chapters 5, 6, and 7). Ideas for prevention are next discussed (Chapter 8). Information about other resources is provided last (Chapter 9).
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