Avoiding Workplace Violence

Sheriff Jim explains how the will to fight and an understanding of your surroundings are the keys to avoiding workplace violence

posted on April 29, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

Too often we think of violence in the workplace as happening somewhere else. It’s just not the sort of thing that happens in our little business, in our little neighborhood, or our little town.  Of course, if we pay attention to the news, we know that that is simply not the case. Tempers can flair and things can get out of hand just about anywhere. And we are in real trouble if we wait until something actually happens to try to develop a plan for dealing with it.

Employees usually have little, or no, input regarding the presence of personal firearms at work. And, in most cases, it is a major waste of time to try to get an employer to change his mind if they have been prohibited. Time may be better spent evaluating the workplace to find ways to make it a safer environment.

Given a choice, the individual work station ought to be as close to an exit as possible. Multiple exits are even better. When a violent confrontation starts near you, especially deadly violence, the smartest thing is to just leave as quickly as possible. Doors are nice, but keep in mind that windows will work, too. When things get rough, being a spectator may not be such a good idea. Simply leaving the area makes a lot of sense.

Another important consideration is identifying furniture and other objects that can provide protection. Some furniture may simply allow you to get out of sight of the person, or persons, who are causing the commotion. However, if the situation involves firearms, it is a really good idea to know what objects are likely to stop bullets. How close is this sort of furniture to your work station? Can it be moved closer?

Even when allowed to have a defensive firearm, it is a good idea to identify or locate objects that can be used as defensive tools. If your work station is in an auto shop or construction area, you will have a large choice of objects that will serve to protect. If, on the other hand, you are in an office area, the choices are far more limited. So, what about a walking cane or umbrella kept near your desk?  Or maybe a can of pepper spray in the desk drawer, if local laws and your workplace rules allow such things? 

Finally, it is important to develop our verbal skills so that an argument doesn’t inadvertently turn violent. Too often, our temper or our pride gets in the way of allowing a confrontation to be settled peacefully. The smart move is often to just walk away and let things cool off.

Everyone should realize that violence can occur in every sort of business or workplace. It could come from dealing with the public or among employees; when you’re in the middle, it really doesn’t matter.  It is simply a good idea to take the time to evaluate your workplace from the standpoint of personal defense. Find ways to harden the target.


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