Do you have a plan to keep returning employees safe?
Yesterday's attempted robbery which turned into an 8 hour hostage situation at a Wells Fargo Bank in St. Cloud, Minnesota follows multiple recent episodes of workplace violence across. These terrifying remind us that workplace violence can rear its ugly head anywhere and at anytime and also stands for the proposition that all employers should be on guard for potential violence.
Thankfully, due to law enforcement's successful negotiations with the individual who was taken into custody, none of the hostages were physically harmed.
According to St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson, this frightening episode ended with a "peaceful resolution, the best possible outcome we could have had."
OSHA reports that perpetrators of workplace violence can be employees, clients, and/or visitors to the workplace. We have seen a combination of all of the above in the past few months.
Unfortunately, there have been incidents of deadly workplace violence at the Oneida casino in Wisconsin, a Federal Express facility in Indiana, a King's Soopers market in Colorado, a cabinet factory in Texas and a series of spas in Georgia, amongst other tragedies.
A CNN report published April 18, 2021 stated that there had been at least 45 mass shootings across the United States in the prior month alone.
No employer has ever been immune to workplace violence.
However, given the turmoil people have been under with no notice due to Covid-19 as their lives and worlds shut down and remained down for more than a year, every employer is encouraged to evaluate their workplace violence prevention policies and procedures.
General recommendations for all employers include:
Carefully review your workplace violence prevention policy and ensure it "fits" given the current and projected climate. What worked just 1.5 years ago pre-Covid may not work in mid-2021.
Publicize and disseminate your workplace violence policy. Encourage all if they "see something" to "say something" whether in the physical workplace, on the internet or elsewhere.
Ensure that everyone knows where to direct their complaints and investigate swiftly and thoroughly.
Meet with law enforcement, the professionals who will be called in if tragedy strikes, to provide ideas and thoughts on how to keep the workplace as safe as it can possibly be.
Invite law enforcement to stop by on occasion. The presence of law enforcement may prevent an act of future workplace in its tracks.
Publicize your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to all employees. A employee who has been under stress due to the effects of Covid-19 may be suffering in silence. Acts of violence may be stopped in its tracks simply by having someone to talk to.