Violence at Work

What you can and cannot do?

Can the employer institute a smoking ban? The answer depends on several things including the state in which you are located and whether or not your firm is unionized. For example instituting a smoking ban in a unionized facility which formerly allowed employees to smoke may be subject to collective bargaining. Many states and municipalities now ban indoor smoking in public areas.

In general you can deny a job to a smoker as long as you don’t use smoking as a surrogate for some other kind of discrimination. Non smokers hired policy does not, according to one expert violate the Americans with Disabilities act (since smoking is no considered a disability) and in general employers adoption of a no-smokers hired policy is not illegal under federal law. About 72% of the 270 human resources professionals responding to a recent SHRM online survey said their companies have designated smoking areas outside of the office; 32% offer smoking cessation programs; 27% have policies limiting the number of breaks employees can take and 19% ban workplace smoking both inside and outside the facility.

Some firms take an extraordinary hard line approach. For example, WEYCO Inc a benefits services company in Michigan first gave employees 15 months warning and offered smoking secession assistance Then they began firing or forcing out all its workers who smoke including those who so in the privacy of their homes.

A disgruntled employee recently walked into Daimler Chrysler’s Ohio Jeep assembly plant and fatally shot one worker, after reportedly being involved in argument with a supervisor.

Violence against employees has become an enormous problem at work. Homicide is the second biggest cause of fatal workplace injuries and surveys by NIOSH found that nonfatal workplace assaults resulted in more tan 876,000 lost workdays and about 416 billion in lost wages in one recent year. While robbery was the primary motive for homicide at work, a co worker or personal associate committed roughly one of the seven workplace homicides. In one survey over half of senior human resources management or security executives surveyed reported that disgruntled employees had threatened senior managers in the past 12 months.

Who is at risk?

Violence is more associated with some jobs than others. In one study researchers constructed a risk for violence scale. This listed 22 job characteristics that the researches found correlated with violence on the job. Jobs with a high likelihood for violence include those jobs that: involve physical care of others; decisions that influence other people’s lives involve handling guns; exercise security functions exercise physical control over others; interact with frustrated individuals and handle weapons other than guns for instance.

While men have more fatal occupational injuries than do women, the proportion of women who are victims of assault is much higher. The Gender motivated violence act part of the violence against women Act passed by Congress in 1994, imposes significant liabilities on employers whose employees become violence victims .Most women (many working in retail establishments) murdered at work were victims of random criminal violence carried out by an assailant unknown to the victim as might occur during a robbery. Co workers family members, or former friends or acquaintances that carried out the reaming homicides.

Most workplace violence incidents are predictable and avoidable. Risk management Magazine estimates that about 86% of past workplace violence incidents were apparent to co-workers who had brought them to management’s attention prior to the incidents actually occurring yet, in most cases, management did little or nothing. Employers can take several steps to reduce workplace violence.