*This post is part of our continuing April coverage of Workplace Violence Awareness Month. Click on these headlines to read our other pieces:

Hiring Millenials – Why Adding Workplace Perks Shouldn’t be the Only Strategy You Incorporate

Houston and Uber Lock Horns Over Background Checks

Now… on to today’s post…

We’ve all heard the stories. The lone gunman who shoots up his workplace. The disgruntled worker who decapitates a former co-worker. Extreme examples of workplace violence are, unfortunately, all too easy to find, but not all workplace violence will attract national media headlines. Sometimes it’s quieter, more subversive, but its toxicity and dangerousness can never be underestimated.

That’s one of the reasons why Workplace Violence Awareness Month is so important. It seems people really only talk about workplace violence when something truly heinous happens. Proclaiming an entire month to raise awareness about these harmful incidences is a step in the right direction. As a background screening agency, our team at Active Screening is all too aware of the dangers that lie behind a candidate’s resume or personality. That’s one of the reasons we take our job as background investigators so seriously – we know how important our results are to keeping workplaces safe. A background check is the single-most effective tool an employer can implement to keep his or her employees, volunteers, clients and visitors protected from danger.

Let’s examine the term ‘workplace violence,’ find out who is most at risk, and learn more about what employers can do to keep their workers safe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a great webpage on the topic. OSHA says workplace violence can be anything from physical violence to intimidation, harassment to threatening disruptive behavior. Murder is obviously an example of workplace violence, but so is verbal abuse. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reports that of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides. Whatever its form, workplace violence is a real problem for many people in many environments.

OSHA says that almost 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. But like any situation where there is a perpetrator and a victim/survivor, many other instances go unreported so the true toll of workplace violence is still a mystery. Research shows there are some jobs that are more likely to experience workplace violence than others:

  • a cashier or anyone who exchanges money with the public
  • working where alcohol is served
  • night shift positions
  • jobs in heavy crime areas
  • delivery drivers
  • healthcare professionals
  • public service workers
  • law enforcement personnel

OSHA recommends employers implement zero-tolerance policies toward workplace violence. These policies should cover all workers, patients clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel. The policy should be part of a thorough on-boarding process for new employees so that everyone receives the same information and training. The policy should also be readily available or publicly posted at your workplace so the possibility for confusion, misunderstanding or misinterpretation is eliminated.

Introducing some sort of safety net prior to hiring is crucial, though, and that’s where a background check comes in. This pre-employment screening tool may help you uncover some inaccuracies, oddities, plain old fashioned lies, or even violent pasts that people (or in these cases, psychopaths) don’t want you to know. A comprehensive background check conducted by a professional screening agency like Active Screening ensures your candidates are vetted beyond standard reference checks. Our customizable background checks can examine:

  • Identity and Credit
  • Driving Record
  • Criminal Record
  • Drug Use
  • Right to Work
  • Credentials, History and References

Screening shouldn’t stop with initial hires, though. It’s imperative that routine screening become part of your employment policy manual, especially for professions that are already considered high-risk.

We are just as passionate about keeping your workplace safe as you are. That’s why we urge you to incorporate a thorough screening program into your hiring and employment processes. We’d love to talk with you about how to improve workplace safety through background checks and why not do it during Workplace Violence Awareness Month!? Send us an email here. 

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