September 28, 2012

Simple Steps DO Make a Difference in Preventing Workplace Violence

Posted in Firearms / Guns, Workplace Violence tagged , , , at 10:14 am by Tom Jacobson

Yesterday’s heinous shootings at Accent Signage in Minneapolis are another sad reminder that workplace violence happens all too often. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were 506 workplace homicides in the U.S. in 2010, and nearly two million Americans report being victims of workplace violence each year.

Sometimes we’re NIMBY’s about this.  We naively insist that these things only happen elsewhere and Never In My Back Yard. And, even though we may acknowledge the risk, we decide that prevention is too complicated or too expensive, so we do nothing more than cross our fingers and hope the worst never happens.  Two recent real-life examples from my own community show that this is simply not true.

A few weeks ago, a  person entered a neighborhood business and asked the receptionist to use the restroom. The receptionist had no idea of who the individual was or what he was up to. Following company policy, the receptionist simply asked him to sign in as a “visitor” before using the restroom. This was enough to spook the guy into leaving the building. Police officers, who were already in the area looking for suspects in an alleged home-intrusion case that had happened nearby earlier that day, apprehended the guy shortly thereafter. Of course, we’ll never know what might have happened had the guy made his way into the facility, but we do know that this business avoided what could have been a very ugly situation.

Another example is a local business that realized an intruder entered their building through an unlocked back door and then wandered about the unoccupied space in the same building. That problem was solved by simply locking the back door and restricting public access to the front door only.

What you need to know: Sadly, workplace violence is a reality, regardless of how big the business or small the community. Acknowledging the risk is the first step toward eliminating it. The next step is implementing preventative strategies which, depending on the business setting, may include measures as simple as locking doors or requiring a visitor sign-in log. OSHA also offers numerous resources, such as information on risk factors, prevention programs and training resources.

For more information about this article, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2012 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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