Gun violence has a negative effect on the U.S. economy and costs billions of dollars each year. Workplace safety is becoming an increasing concern for employers, and it can be a challenge.
Many talks are taking place at the federal level about workplace safety and gun violence. Here are some of the impacts and strategies for employers to increase workplace safety.
The impact of gun violence on employees
Many employees directly affected by gun violence battle to re-integrate into the workforce.
They experience psychological trauma, steep medical costs, a loss of productivity and reduced quality of life. Estimates of work loss total an average of about $50,000 for every survivor of assault with a firearm. Since 1999 there have been more shootings in the workplace than at schools.
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Have a clear no-guns policy
Businesses have a critical part to play in providing strategies and solutions to increase workplace safety. State gun laws vary considerably across the country. There are many states that allow licensed carriers to bring their guns to work, albeit to vehicles and lots. In Indiana, legal firearm owners can keep a gun in a trunk or glove compartment as long as it is locked away or out of sight.
However, employers can usually legally prohibit guns in the workplace. One of the best workplace security measures is to make it clear that there is no tolerance for weapons in the workplace. They should post notices that weapons are not permitted in the workplace.
Educate and train employees
Employee education provides a powerful way to reduce gun violence. Employers should include a training module on gun safety and the prevention of firearm violence in their onboarding process. Any gun violence prevention programs need to be ongoing, so this shouldn’t just happen during onboarding. Employers should work closely with HR leaders to develop materials for training purposes. This could include:
- What to do in a situation where there is an active shooter.
- Ways to prevent workplace violence.
- Social support services that can help employees in times of stress.
- Mental health resources.
The more employees that know about safe storage, responsible ownership, and prevention of firearm violence better. There are many community groups who are prepared to give courses about these issues that businesses can work with.
Send the message that safety is a priority
Safety starts with the attitude of the employer. Even if a workplace hasn’t been affected by gun violence, it’s important to impress on employees and their families that safety in the workplace is a priority.
Letters and town hall meetings allow employers to give their verbal commitment and open up communication around the issue. They can promote a company culture that supports workplace safety and doesn’t accept gun violence.
Get feedback from employees
Employers need to engage employees so they can get feedback and new ideas for workplace security measures. An anonymous survey can give employers a good feel of the prevailing attitudes amongst the workforce. The survey could ask questions like “Do you feel safe at work?” Are there any actions that management could take to make you feel safer?”
Take every employee complaint seriously
If you want a career in HR, you have to deal with employee complaints. Following up on every complaint is essential. Employees often have their ears to the ground, and it’s important not to disregard threats or think a situation will blow over. Employees should have ways to raise concerns without fear of repercussion. They should know that all complaints are taken seriously and investigated.
Know the legal responsibilities
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees. They can be held liable for gun-related injuries in the workplace. They also have to pay workers’ compensation claims to employees injured by gun violence.
Every employer in the U.S. has a part to play in reducing gun violence through the strategies they use. They need to establish clear no-gun policies and educate employees about the issues and how to deal with them. Partnering with groups in the community to give courses to employees can help. It also helps to get feedback from employees and address any complaints or threats that could lead to violence.
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