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Workplace Violence: Ways to Protect Yourself
4 mins read

SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 – It’s a heady topic, and one that has been making its share of headlines of late. And, unfortunately, it is one that is highly relevant to the trucking industry: Of the 14,770 workplace homicide victims in the decade between 1992 and 2012, 13 percent were in transportation and material moving occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But although homicide is one of the leading causes of work-related deaths, workplace violence spans a wide spectrum, including bullying, threats, overall hostility, verbal abuse and physical and sexual assault. Roughly 2 million American workers are victims of it every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

It’s an uncomfortable and unsettling issue but – like many that are – one that should be frankly and appropriately discussed and addressed. Foley is here to provide guidance to help you be proactive and ensure for a safe and successful work environment.

The Importance of Background Checks

While there’s no way to predict, with 100 percent accuracy, when an instance of violence will occur, you can mitigate the possibility by knowing as much about your workers as possible.

First and foremost, it’s imperative that you thoroughly research every potential employee by following up with references and past employers. If you’re not satisfied with the contacts they provide initially, don’t hesitate to ask for others – there’s no such thing as having too much information.

Meanwhile, enhance the checks you are required to do by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – including motor vehicle records, safety performance history and drug and alcohol violations – with numerous other verifications and searches. Those can include confirmation of income and military service, and scans of the National Sex Offender registry, as well as county, state and federal criminal records and criminal record databases.

All of these combined can help you get a more complete picture of your candidate, and help to determine whether they have a background of risky behavior, prior drug or alcohol violations, and why (if applicable) there are gaps in their work histories.

After the Hire: Ongoing Programs and Training

Of course, your due diligence shouldn’t stop there. Maintaining a safe and productive work environment means implementing workplace violence prevention programs and ongoing training.

One option is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “active shooter preparedness” website, https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness. The site provides numerous valuable webinars, workshop series and other resource materials that include profiles of an active shooter, tips on recognizing signs of potential workplace violence, and training for and responding to an active shooter situation.

Meanwhile, constantly stay proactive, and have a plan should the worst happen. OSHA recommends the following:

  • Providing employees with cell phones or hand-held alarms and requiring them to constantly check in with regards to their location;
  • Instructing them not to enter any location where they feel unsafe;
  • Encouraging them to report all incidents – big or small – and being sure to follow-up on that incident with an investigation, discussion, and by providing medical attention and stress de-briefing and post-traumatic counseling, if necessary.

Of course, these are just some of the things you can do – every company has its own unique needs, so it’s important to tailor programs and training to your specific situation.

Interested in learning more about background checks? Contact Foley at (860) 819-3974.

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