Local Violence & Workplace Violence: Keeping It Safe

Robbery at Jake’s Hamburgers

On Tuesday evening, two thieves wearing dark clothing and gloves, walked in to the popular local burger joint, Jake’s Hamburgers, on Ogletown Road. The robbers implied that they were armed and demanded the contents of the cash register’s contents. They fled with the money but did not take anything from the patrons or employees.

Experts in workplace safety would say that the employee who complied with the robbers’ request did the right thing. Employers can’t ensure that violence never comes to their workplace. But what employers can do is to help employees be prepared if it ever does.

Here are a few ways to help keep your workplace safe:

1. Conduct an audit. Assess the risk of the physical lay-out of your work environment. Consider access to the property, lighting, security guards, surveillance, etc. Ask whether any of these measures are in place and, if so, whether they are effective. If they are not currently part of your safety plan, consider whether they should be.

2. Speak Up. If you have reason to think that there is a potential safety risk, don’t keep it to yourself. In the case of domestic violence, or other scenario where one employee is at particular risk for harm, communicate the nature of the danger to the employee. If it is an employee who may pose a potential threat, be sure to take necessary steps but on a need-to-know basis, being sure not to provide any private or medical information about the employee making the threat.

3. Keep Open the Lines of Communication. Require all employes to report all incidents or threats, no matter how slight. Contact local law enforcement about any incidents. And investigate all incidents and threats, even when you receive information from an anonymous source.

4. Train Managers & Employees. Get expert help on designing the training program. Teach yourworkforce how to spot warning signs and who to call or contact. Make sure there is a plan for “off hours” such as evenings and weekends.

5. Implement a No-Tolerance Policy. Respond immediately and seriously to any threat of violence, including intimidation and harassment. You may not be able to control the world outside your workplace but you must do everything possible to keep your employees safe while at work.

OSHA has published workplace violence guidelines that focus on preventing workplace violence in healthcare and social service operations. It has developed guidelines that apply to the late-night retail store industry. The guidelines are focused on assisting places like Jake’s where employees have the extra risk of direct access with the public. The Recommendations for Workplace Violene Prevention Program in Late-Night Retail Establishments can be found here. And the Health Care Guidelines can be found here.