Workplaces can reduce the likelihood of violence with education, planning and processes/procedures to help proactively identify these type of risks before they escalate. Chas Lowe, commercial insurance specialist at Zito Insurance Agency, Inc., says that workplace violence incidents are not “black swan events” because they occurred “more than 300 times last year,” according to AlertFind. Violence can happen in any industry, and “the most vulnerable are companies that deal with the public – i.e., hospitals, schools, government entities, social services – as well as places that exchange money and/or businesses that are open late,” he says. “The current status of a business can also impact the risk for violence. For example, rumors about layoffs, outsourcing or a business closing have all been shown to increase the likelihood of a violent event occurring.” Employers have a duty to implement risk management practices to deter violence and help people deal with issues before they become a crisis. Processes and procedures should prevent conflict from turning into harassment or violence. Effective lines of communication on all levels can ensure employees are comfortable approaching management or reporting violent acts. Counseling services or company training helps people know what behavior will and will not be tolerated, while also encouraging employees to accept individual differences. Lowe adds, “Consider offering counseling services or mental health resources through a health benefits package. A well-thought-out disaster plan should also address what to do in the event of workplace violence.” A standalone endorsement to current coverage, he says, can help cover medical expenses for all of those affected, hiring independent security consultants, victim employees’ salaries and replacement employees’ salaries, loss of business income in the event of a workplace shutdown, post-incident crisis management, including consultants and mental health specialists, and rewards for information leading to an arrest.
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