WVPI founder Kathleen M. Bonczyk was recently quoted by KERA News following a deadly mass workplace shooting about the severe underreporting problem that exists concerning workplace violence.
"We don't...have a good statistic as to how many Americans are victimized by workplace violence," Bonczyk explains.
Pictured: Kathleen M. Bonczyk, Founder of the WVPI
Bonczyk cited the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a source. Although OSHA conservatively estimates 2,000,000 American workers fall victim to workplace violence each year, the agency cautions "Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported."
WHY AMERICANS DO NOT REPORT AND WHAT AN EMPLOYER CAN DO ABOUT IT
According to Bonczyk there are a myriad of reasons why a worker might not report being victimized by workplace violence such as (1) not being aware of who to report workplace violence to, (2) concerns that by reporting the problem it may get worse, or (3) that the complaint may be mishandled or not taken seriously by management.
OSHA recommends a strong workplace violence policy as a method to prevent further acts of violence.
But according to Bonczyk, this is not enough.
An employer could have the best policy in the world: However, if said policy is buried at the bottom of page 76 of the employee handbook which a newly hired worker signs during orientation along with a stack of other documents never to see it again, that employee may not remember or even understand the steps that should be taken per the policy if he or she experiences occupational violence down the line.
THREE TIPS TO TAKE TO REDUCE WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
Bonczyk encourages employers to take the following proactive measures to address the underreporting issue and mitigate the risk of workplace violence:
1) Reiterating and reinforcing the workplace violence policy at all-employee meetings where employees are encouraged to ask questions;
2) As certain acts of workplace violence constitute criminal conduct, inviting the individuals who will be called in if and when said behavior erupts to these meetings: Local law enforcement.
3) Posting the policy at visible locations where employees gather and will be likely to see it - such as in the break room or on bulletin boards where other notices are located;
4) Disseminating it periodically to all workers and encouraging the workforce to come forward with any questions, issues or concerns.