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Preventing and responding to workplace violence

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The scope of workplace violence

Workplace violence is not limited to physical injury. Threats of violence, harassment, intimidation, verbal abuse, and other harmful disruptive behavior also impact employees and operations. Beyond employees, workplace violence can impact — and may be instigated by — customers, contractors, and visitors. Even violence your employees experience outside the workplace can have repercussions for your organization.

While some sectors such as social services, healthcare, and transportation have higher incidences of workplace violence, every organization is at risk. Violence, threats, and bullying can severely impair an organization, eroding reputation, productivity, employee morale and retention – and ultimately your bottom line.


Key steps to prevent workplace violence

Depending on the size of your organization, consider working with a crisis management consultant who specializes in workplace violence. Important considerations as you select this resource include 24/7 availability; a proven record of agile response; and their willingness and ability to provide you with solid references. You can minimize risk by taking the following steps to prevent workplace violence and limit its impact if it does occur.

  1. Understand the causes of workplace violence
    You can better prevent workplace violence by understanding and addressing its leading causes. Workplace violence is often linked to mental health conditions, stress, and substance abuse. Your organization can help prevent workplace violence by providing resources that help employees address these challenges.

  2. Assess your worksites
    Every location is different, so it’s important to evaluate all your organization’s facilities and offices and identify vulnerabilities and risks. Include controls of physical space in your assessment — e.g., building access, onsite security, and surveillance cameras. Assessments should also focus on identifying employees who engage in behaviors that could be warning signs of potential violence, such as telling violent or hateful jokes, making threatening statements, being verbally abusive and other inappropriate behavior.

  3. Establish policies to prevent violence
    A strong set of hiring and operational policies can help prevent workplace violence. Consider establishing pre-employment screening that flags job seekers who exhibit warning signs or have a history of violence or inappropriate behavior. At the operational level, establish a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior and an easily accessed system for employees to notify managers and other personnel about threats.

  4. Train employees at all levels
    Educate and empower your employees to help make your organization safe and healthy. Train employees about your workplace violence policies, how to respond to threats and emergencies, and what resources are available to address workplace conflicts, stress, and mental health challenges. Provide leadership training to ensure managers and supervisors set clear standards of conduct, address employee problems promptly, and use performance counseling, alternative dispute resolution, and other management tools effectively.

  5. Support the health and well-being of your employees
    Creating a healthy, supportive workplace and respecting your employees’ work-life balance can help reduce the risk of workplace violence. Consider developing an employee assistance program (EAP) if your organization doesn’t have one and encourage your employees to use this resource.


Responding to a violent incident at work

Preparing your organization for workplace violence can help limit the impact of an incident and accelerate recovery. Training should not only educate employees at all levels about their roles in preventing workplace violence, but also how to respond.

Generally, employees should not confront individuals who pose a threat, but all employees should know what to do when a threat emerges and who to contact when violence erupts. Depending on the situation and the resources of your organization, local law enforcement and internal security should be alerted so they can defuse the situation and stop violence in progress.


Recovering from workplace violence

Your organization will be better able to recover from an incident of workplace violence when you provide timely, compassionate support for employees who are victims or have witnessed violence. This support could include medical care, counseling services, financial assistance, and extra time off. A strong response can help your organization get back on its feet, restore morale, and protect your reputation.

Work with crisis management specialists
Recovering from an incident of workplace violence is a challenge for any business and can be especially difficult for small to medium-size businesses with fewer in-house resources. Organizations can benefit by drawing on the expertise of crisis management consultants who have deep experience preventing and responding to workplace violence. Your insurer may be able to provide guidance and connect you with a proven crisis management organization.


Workplace violence resources

Workplace Violence Sell Sheet for Private Companies 

Workplace Violence Sell Sheet for Public Companies 

Workplace Violence Take and Use Guide


Reach out to your broker or agent to learn what resources are available from your insurance company for preventing workplace violence.


This document is advisory in nature and is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. It is an overview only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice.

Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at Insurance provided by Chubb Insurance Company of Canada or Chubb Life Insurance Company of Canada (collectively, “Chubb Canada”). All products may not be available in all provinces or territories. This communication contains product summaries only. Coverage is subject to the language of the policies as actually issued.

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