Workplace violence includes any disruptive behavior that threatens employee wellbeing.

Workplace violence is a notable problem in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2009, 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes—i.e. rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault—occurred at the workplace.

Furthermore, while some industries are found to have a greater disposition toward violence (i.e. professional drivers, retail sales workers and protective services), no workplace is exempt.

Here’s how to prevent occupational violence from occurring at your establishment.

1. Equip Employees With Proper Safety Education

In most cases, workplace violence materializes quickly and without warning. That said, each employee must know the correct steps to take in accordance with company protocol when faced with a hostile or violent person. This may include:

  • Placing a distress call to local authorities.
  • Alerting (sometimes discreetly) appropriate personnel in the chain of command.
  • Evacuating the building.

Educate your staff with a well-documented emergency plan.

2. Promote Self Defense

Employers should promote self-defense among workers and provide appropriate literature to help strengthen employees in that area. This way, employees can better identify and diffuse a potentially violent situation. Techniques to know include:

  • What pressure points are most effective at disempowering someone.
  • How to protect your head and vital organs.
  • How to escape from a hand hold, duct tape or zip-tie cuffs.

Many local police forces provide free self-defense training. Keep in mind, however, that self-defense should only be deployed if there is an immediate threat to someone’s physical safety.

3. Limit Building Access

Limiting access to your facility won’t prevent much employee-on-employee violence; it will, however, prevent violence from outside persons. Access control solutions limit outsider entry through the use of employee-specific keycards and badges.

The less access an outsider has to the business, the less damage he or she can cause.

4. Install Video Surveillance

A video surveillance system works as both a deterrent and tangible evidence in case an incident does arise. Furthermore, video surveillance empowers you to keep an eye on your business—anytime, anywhere.

In addition to video surveillance, business owners promote a more secure workplace environment by keeping areas well lit and installing a monitored alarm system.