Workplace safety: Believe in the threat

q. How can I protect my business and employees from workplace violence?
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A. The single most important thing you can do to protect your team from workplace violence is: Believe it can happen to one of your employees and have a plan ahead of time. 

The “Rule of Self Exclusion,” aka, “It can’t happen to me,” is one of the biggest causes of serious injury and death. Bad things can and do happen. Take steps now to avoid regrets later. Most business owners will spend more time planning their company party than planning to protect their people against violence on the job. An effective plan is avoid, flee, hide and fight.

Avoid. Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker and background check your employees, especially new hires. At a minimum, check new employees and clients against the sex offender registry. Google a zip code and “crime map” to see if you can get information about crimes and crime patterns in your service areas.

Flee. If you’re not at the scene of the crime you can’t be the victim. If you can escape by fleeing from violence, do so. Leave your possessions.

Hide. Also called “sheltering in place,” this is a good alternative when fleeing is not possible. Get behind a solid locked door, under a desk, or under a parked car—any place that offers concealment. Wait quietly and mute your cell phone.

Fight. When no other choice is left, fight to protect yourself or others. Even against someone who is armed, your chances are better if you try to stop them than if you just stand still hoping for the best.

Joe Rosner is an expert on personal safety, workplace violence and self defense for healthcare occupations. He can be reached at