How Employee Assistance Program Can Prevent Workplace Violence

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Prevention of Workplace Violence (OSHA, 2006):
•    Awareness/Training
•    Threat Assessment
•    Long-Term Security
•    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
•    Employee Assistance Program

Employee Assistance Program

Each agency has a confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with trained counselors who can manage workplace violence issues.
Little conflicts could become full-blown if unresolved. Early intervention could contain the problem. Professional counselors can help discuss problems that have negative effect on job performance. EAP is required to help employees with alcoholism or drug abuse problems, and most EAP counselors extend help to employees with other problems such as financial.

EAP may vary from agency to agency in its makeup and scope of services. Confidentiality is important for EAP. The privacy of employees who seek EAP services are protected by laws, policies, and professional ethics of EAP providers.

Identifying Potentially Violent Situations

The following are warning signs of potential workplace violence:

•    Intimidating, bullying, or other aggressive behavior
•    Conflicts with customers, co-workers, or supervisors
•    Bringing a weapon to the workplace (unless necessary for the job), making improper remarks on guns, or making idle threats
•    Statements showing interest, approval or sympathy with perpetrators on incidents of workplace violence
•    Statements of desperation and thinking of suicide
•    Direct or veiled threats
•    Substance abuse
•    Extreme changes in usual behaviors

Once you have noticed a subordinate, co-worker, or customer showing any of the above signs, the following steps should be taken:

•    If a co-worker, notify the employee’s supervisor immediately about observations
•    If it is a customer, notify supervisor immediately
•    If it is a subordinate, then evaluate the situation by knowing the cause of employee’s problems
•    If it is a supervisor, inform that person’s manager

It is very important to respond suitably to the situation. Managers should discuss the situation with expert resource staff to be able to determine how to manage the situation well.

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