Workplace violence is undoubtedly a sensitive subject, but it does need to be a serious conversation you need to have with your employees. Tragic news of sporadic, violent incidents are hard to ignore, and employers and HR services should be looking on with concern over their employees safety. It’s the last thing anyone expects to happen, but your company needs to be prepared for the worst of situations.

Know the facts
To begin, violence in the workplace is very rare, but around 400 people are killed on the job every year, reported The Occupational Safety and Health Administration. People often believe this number is much higher, however this is only media hype. The media does aid in highlighting how workplace violence originates. Workforce Magazine analyzed some of these trends and found that recently there have been more acts of domestic violence that encroaches in the office, as well as issues over politics, religion or race.

Jill Bond, vice president and general counsel at Rich Products Corp., discussed the challenge of being prepared for violence with Workforce.

“I believe it is difficult for employers to find the right balance between ‘off-duty’ conduct and what implicates ‘on-duty’ responsibilities for an employer, especially in light of new EEOC guidelines. This is especially true when co-workers are also companions or relatives outside the workplace. On the one hand, we have to be careful about being too intrusive. On the other hand, we don’t want to look back after a violent incident and wonder whether we could have done more,” Bond stressed.

These Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines Bond refers to are anti-discrimination laws that prohibit prejudice against victims of domestic violence and require employers to give leave time, medical care or legal assistance when necessary. Here, it’s important to note that workplace violence does not necessarily have to be fatal. OSHA also reported that nearly two million workers report violence in their workplace every year. This can be any threat or physical act of violence.

How can you be prepared?
Human resources should organize a safety protocol that is regularly reviewed and shared with all employees. PEO companies can help customize a plan best fit for your business. This is one situation where you hope it will never happen, but a plan could potentially save lives.