Increased Risks of Workplace Violence due to Pandemic
COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, and it has affected us all in some shape or form. But the rising tension and anxieties brought about by a pandemic are increasing the risk of workplace violence.
Workplace violence can take the form of physical abuse where actual contact causes injury or harm, verbal abuse or threatening behaviour that can leave a person in fear of harm.
From people ‘weaponising’ COVID by spitting and coughing on workers to physical assaults, the data across the globe shows an increase in violent behaviours towards frontline workers, such as health professionals, cleaners, transport workers, because of the pandemic and lockdowns.
But why is this the case? Shouldn’t we be celebrating and thanking our frontline workers for helping keep us safe, not abusing them?
It is believed the pandemic has created raised stress levels and lowered tolerance thresholds for previously non-existent issues such as social distancing and hand hygiene. This trend does not surprise experts, with violence usually exacerbated by emergencies.
Businesses need to take proactive measures to ensure the safety of employees and to minimise the likelihood of their employees being subjected to workplace violence, be it physical harm or threatening behavior through to verbal abuse. It is their duty of care to protect their employees from injury, harm, or fear of harm.
One way employers can mitigate risk and help employees is through de-escalation training. This training helps employees to recognize potential problems and then take practical steps to de-escalate threatening situations.
GJK’s number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of our people. Partnering with Resolution Education, we established a de-escalation training program where our cleaners learned simple, and practical strategies to stay composed and resolve conflict when managing challenging behaviors and potential aggression.
They learned how to identify the different types of aggression through verbal cues and body language, how to cope when confronted by an aggressor, through to how to defuse the situation, how to stop it from becoming physical, and when to leave or seek assistance/shelter.
We have established this training as a positive step, empowering our employees to confidently deal with these situations for a safe outcome for all.