Workplace Violence: Understanding, Preventing & Responding

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates 2 million employees per year are victims of workplace violence.

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other dangerously disruptive behavior that occurs at a place of business. It can affect employees, clients, and/or customers. Workplace violence is a complex and widespread issue, steadily gaining attention from the public, mental health experts, and law enforcement professionals.

Several types of workplace violence events have emerged over the past few years including: incidents involving offenders who have no relationship with the victims or the establishment, those where the offenders currently receive services from the establishment, episodes involving current or former employees acting out toward their present or past place of employment, or when domestic disputes between an employee and the perpetrator spill over into the workplace.prevent-workplace-violence.jpg

Proper training and preparedness is the first step to preventing workplace violence in your place of business. Many corporations throughout the United States have instituted programs to help prevent violence in the workplace. These efforts can go a long way toward minimizing the threat at your place of business.

Business owners and managers should incorporate the following items in their workplace to create a safer environment for their staff and those who come to their place of business:

  • Teach staff what is considered unacceptable conduct from co-workers and visitors to the business.
  • Teach staff what actions to take if they witness or are subjected to workplace violence including the early warning signs of potentially violent situations.
  • Create effective steps to follow in response to a workplace violence incident the same way you would teach staff to respond to fires, natural disasters and the like
  • Encourage staff to report all incidents that appear to be workplace violence
  • Build a crisis procedure for responding to workplace violence and practice with drills on a regular basis the same way you practice fire drills, earthquake drills and such
  • Pre-screen potential employees thoroughly (including background checks)
  • Enforce workplace rules and review regularly with staff
  • Offer an employee assistance program that includes mental health care
  • Require that all visitors and vendors who come to the establishment are registered by photo copying their ID before being allowed access
  • Use bright, effective lighting
  • Have an adequate amount of staff on site at all times
  • Establish clear internal and/or external lines of communication to avert and respond effectively to a crisis
  • Change business routines – criminals and ex-employees study or are already aware of the daily routines of your business – which enables them to know when best to strike. Changing routines on a regular basis will make this harder for someone to plan an attack.
  • Provide drop safes when large amounts of cash are exchanged throughout the day and train staff to use the safe continuously leaving only a minimal amount of cash accessible and apply signage indicating that staff on duty does not have access to safe
  • Immediately file a restraining order against any person(s) who have posed a threat to persons or property at your place of business – even if it was just a verbal threat
  • Some additional items to consider if possible are; hiring security staff, adding security cameras and/or alarms, installing panic buttons in discrete (but easily accessible) locations, and entries protected by codes, cards or keys only
  • If your staff does delivery work, running any type of errands or visits to clients/customers’ homes you should also implement the following; Instruct your employees not to enter any situation they feel is unsafe, equip your employees with cell phones or radios to be able to contact you or seek help if necessary, allow at least 2 staff members to travel together whenever possible, and to carry minimum money.WPV Shot.jpg

To make Workplace Violence Prevention effective in your place of business; learn the key elements to prevention in your particular field of business and thoroughly investigate your business’ weaknesses and strengths in regards to any possible threats.  Understand that if  an employee/coworker begins acting differently;  determining the frequency, duration, and intensity of the new behavior can be helpful.

Specific behaviors of concern that should increase awareness include depression, threats, menacing or erratic behavior, aggressive outbursts, references to weaponry, verbal abuse, hypersensitivity, diminished work performance and offensive commentary or jokes referring to violence.

Not surprisingly, relationship or personal problems can carry over from home to the workplace. Certain signs that may help determine if an employee/coworker is experiencing such difficulties include disruptive phone calls or texts, anxiety, poor concentration, unexplained bruises or injuries, frequent absences and tardiness, and disruptive visits from current or former partners.

Given that human behavior is not always predictable, no absolute way exists to gauge where an individual may be on the pathway toward violence. If the individuals display potentially threatening behaviors of concern, vigilant employees should report these directly to a supervisor or vigilant supervisors should take notice.  Employees generally do not want to be viewed as undermining their peers and, therefore, wait until they are certain that a situation is serious before reporting it. Unfortunately, at this point, it may be too late. This stresses the importance of awareness on the part of employees. Staff must be trained so that when behaviors of concern occur, a “red flag” is raised and appropriate action is taken. Creating a climate of trust is the key element of employers and business owners to preventing workplace violence.

⛈Driving in the Driving Rain⛈ Tips for Safe Commuting

As the song says, “It never rains in Southern California, but don’t they warn you? It pours, man it pours.

After one of our worst droughts in history, Southern California has been getting drenched lately with heavy rainfall and strong winds. Many of us aren’t used to this kind of weather so we wanted to share some very important safety tips about driving in these dangerous and unfamiliar conditions.

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  • Check your tires before driving in severe rain. Tire tread is what allows your tires to ALIGNEMNT.jpgadhere to the road, which is why it’s so dangerous to drive with bald tires. Without the right traction, you can skid, slide, and hydroplane easily in wet conditions. (Click here for a simple way to check your tires at home.) Also, be sure your tires are
    inflated properly. Under-inflated tires have more difficulty maintaining good traction with the road. They can also deflect inwards, which makes the tire center higher and traps water easier.(Consult your owner’s manual to find out exactly how your tires should be inflated.)
  • Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from
    hydroplaning. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.
  • Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.Anticipate gusts by taking special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather.
  • Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you, even in broad daylight. Be sure to check your lights regularly to make sure none of your lights have burnt out, and replace dead lights immediately. This includes headlights, brake lights, turn signals, tail lights, and running lights. Be sure your headlights are pointing in the right direction to make it easier to see and prevent you from blinding other drivers.
  • Use and maintain your windshield wipers. You can improve your visibility in wet conditions by ensuring that your wipers are up to the job, and by using the right washer fluid. Replace poorly or not working windshield wipers immediately and maintain them annually to prevent them from cracking, breaking, or not sealing properly when you need them most. Also, try a hydrophobic washer fluid that will cause water to bead up and drip off your windshield, rather than sticking to it and blocking your view.
  • Keep your windows clean and clear. Being able to see properly is key to driving safely any time, especially when visibility is already reduced because of rain. To improve your visibility. Clean the inside and outside of the windows and if your windows get foggy turn on the air conditioning or cold air in the car and aim the vents at the windows. Turn on the rear defroster, and open the windows if necessary to increase the airflow.
  • Give other vehicles more space. Practice 5 seconds of following time in the rain, which gives you and the cars behind you more time to react to traffic. Rear-end collisions occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you. Determining the 5 second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes for you to pass the same spot and adjust accordingly.  Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes can cause you to slide forward, and you won’t be able to control the car. Hitting the brakes too hard can also force water into your brakes, making them less effective.
  • Approach turns slowly. Turning too quickly on a wet road can cause your tires to hydroplane, and this means you won’t be able to control the car, and could skid out. Whenever you have a turn coming up, signal early and start slowing down sooner than you would in normal conditions.
  • DO NOT use cruise control. Cruise control is another factor that can lead to hydroplaning. The weight of the car shifts slightly when you ease on or off the accelerator, and this helps the tires maintain traction with the road. But with cruise control, because the speed of the car is constant, there is no weight shift, and the car can lose traction.
  • Do not drive through deep standing water, deep flowing water or puddles that you are unclear of their depth. Driving through deep or moving water can be hazardous for a number of reasons, including that you could get stuck, stall out, damage the car or the electrical components, or be swept away. If you encounter these types of road flooding, turn around and find another route. In a case where the only route is blocked, pull over and wait out the flooding.
  • Be prepared if you start to skid or hydroplaneSkidding on a wet road can be particularly frightening, but the key is to remain calm, look where you want to go, ease your foot off the accelerator, and gently steer in the direction you want to travel. Avoid braking and never slam on the brakes. Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles (56 km) per hour, and when it happens your car may not react when you turn the steering wheel, and your back end may feel loose. (Check out this useful link with tips on managing hydroplanes and skids.)
  • Stay focused! When you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to always pay attention to the road, other cars, and pedestrians. This is especially true in the rain, when you cannot see as well, and your ability to stop may be hindered by the slickness of the road. Stay focused by keeping your eyes on the road, ignoring your cellphone or radio or conversations in the vehicle and do not eat, smoke, read or apply make up while driving. (For more tips about distracted driving, read our blog on this topic here ).
  • Never be afraid to pull over to the side of the road if you don’t feel comfortable driving. If you can’t see the sides of the road, the cars in front of you, or your surroundings at a safe distance, pull over. You should also pull over if there’s too much water on the road, the road is too slick, or you simply don’t feel safe. To pull over safely: turn on your signal, check your mirror and blind spots, pull over as far as possible to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights.

We know that SoCal traffic is bad enough in good weather and most of us are in a hurry to get to work on time.  Driving in traffic is stressful and when it’s slowing you down it’s easy to get frustrated.  Please keep an eye on the weather reports and plan ahead to avoid the frustration or pressures of feeling like you need to drive faster than you should in inclement weather.  It’s always best to leave 15-30 minutes earlier than you do under normal conditions because your safety is more important than sleeping in or being slightly put out.

Stay safe, SoCal, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for regular safety tips and articles to keep you well and happy in the New Year.

 

❄😔Holiday Blues got You Down? Try These Prevention & Survival Tips for a Happier & Healthier Winter Season😔❄

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for some people they are anything but jolly. Depression may occur at any time of the year, but the stress and anxiety during the months of November and December may cause even those who are usually content to experience loneliness and a lack of fulfillment.

Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time,” says Rakesh Jain, MD, director of psychiatric drug research at the R/D Clinical Research Center in Lake Jackson, Texas. “Many people feel depressed, which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.”

As we enter what many people consider the happiest time of year, thousands of people will be suffering silently. Some with an ongoing battle with depression and others who suffer from seasonal depression, also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). So if the family gatherings, the endless parties, and the shopping get you down, you’re not alone.

Despondency during the holidays can be tough, especially when feeling disconnected from the holiday spirited world. “I think a lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many people have, or come from broken homes, and the added emphasis of “family” during the holidays can be a real trigger for them. Those suffering from depression need to be especially careful when coping with holiday stress,  and those of us who are not facing this battle should learn how to recognize and ease the suffering for our loved ones who are.

While people with clinical depression should seek professional help, those with a touch of the holiday blues can try these strategies recommended by experts to assure a merry holiday and a happy new year:

  • Avoid setting up unrealistic expectations for yourself such as taking on hosting responsibilities for events or trying to be the peace keeper in family conflicts. Remember no one is perfect and you can’t perfect things in an imperfect world. So, it’s ok to say no rather than putting unreasonable demands on yourself. Sometimes, tasks that seem reasonable to others are not for you, and you are not in a competition to keep up with those who can.
  • Plan ahead by creating prevention routines for yourself and doing your best to follow your schedule. Set up a calendar of to do lists for positive actions for yourself. For example, schedule a time to read a favorite author, create art, write in a journal, take a nap, go on a long walk in a new area, etc.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Maybe now is not the time to scroll through social media seeing everyone’s perfect holiday pictures. Understand that everyone puts on their best face for these circumstances and trying to compare yourself to their world is unrealistic for anyone.
  • Remember it’s ok to grieve. If you’ve suffered a loss and this season is a painful reminder of that, don’t be ashamed to grieve that loss. Feelings are a sign that you’re human and reflect where you are in your healing process.
  • Don’t rob yourself of proper rest! Sleep and rest are important to everyone. Studies have proven that sleep deprivation is directly connected to depression. Do not cut back on your sleep in order to get more done during this busy season. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
  • Keep sunshine in your life. Many times seasonal depression is not linked to holiday activity as much as it is simply a darker time of year. Humans rely on sunshine and vitamin D (provided by sunshine) to live a healthy life both physically and emotionally. You can prevent this by simply enjoying 30 minutes of sunshine outdoors each day. Take a walk before work or during your lunch break, or go to a park and sit in the sun’s rays.
  • Avoid binging on food and alcohol. What feels good at the moment will have you facing regrets later on. Know your limits and stick to them at all times. In the moment binging may seem like a solution, but in actuality it creates more problems.

Most importantly, concentrate on what really matters and don’t let the static around you mix your signals! Remember, it’s ok to say no rather than over extending yourself financially, physically or emotionally. While the holiday season is a time for giving, never forget that every day is a time to take care of yourself first.


If your feelings of sadness during the holidays are accompanied by suicidal thoughts, do one of the following immediately: 1. Call 911  2. Go immediately to a hospital emergency room. 3. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).


Could I be Suffering from Depression?

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Depression is an invisible illness that goes unrecognized because many people don’t understand the causes, effects, or symptoms. Sometimes it goes unrecognized by those who suffer the illness, and often times it goes unrecognized by others because they simply cannot relate.

Depression is a treatable medical illness involving an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and neuropeptides. It’s not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Just like you can’t “wish away” diabetes, heart disease, or any other physical illness, you can’t make depression go away by trying to “snap out of it.”

It’s an exasperating disease to live with because being depressed, frustrated, sleepless or numb for long periods of time is exhausting – especially when you can’t prove to anyone that you’re really sick. Many times depression is caused by hormonal imbalances, grief (death of a loved one or divorce), or situational factors (loss of a job or a move to a new city) beyond our control. No one should be ashamed of having this disease. Remember, like any other disease, treatment helps.

Here are some symptoms to help identify depression in yourself or in a loved one:

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Struggling with concentrating
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Overwhelming and uncontrollable negative thoughts
  • Loss of appetite or significant increase in appetite
  • Escalating irritability, aggression, or anger
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
  • Developing an increase in alcohol consumption or reckless (acting out) behavior
  • Thoughts that your life is not worth living or thoughts of death or suicide
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Unexplained aches and pains

If you are experiencing these symptoms you should seek professional help immediately. If you observe these symptoms in a loved one, gently encourage them to consider professional help.

If you are suffering this invisible illness, you need to know you’re not alone. Millions of people do understand your situation. It is a clinical illness that can be helped. What you are feeling may be connected to other health issues, seasons, previous life incidents and many other factors. In fact, just because you may have the symptoms of depression it does not always mean you have the illness. It is important that you seek medical attention if you think you may be suffering from depression and get a professional assessment.

For a listing of depression support groups, please visit the DBSA online


For Family and Friends

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Keep in mind that a mood disorder such as Depression is a physical, treatable illness that effects a person’s brain. It is a real illness, as real as diabetes or asthma. It is not a character flaw or personal weakness, and it is not caused by anything you or your loved one did.

A “tough love” approach is widely considered  unhelpful in terms of aiding someone with depression. Here are some simple ways to reach out to someone battling depression this holiday season:

  • Please Do educate yourself about your loved one’s illness, its symptoms and its treatments. Read brochures and books from DBSA and other dependable sources.
  • Please Don’t ask the person to “snap out of it.” Your friend or family member can’t snap out of this illness any more than he or she could overcome diabetes, asthma, cancer or high blood pressure without treatment.
  • Please Do give unconditional love and support. Offer reassurance and hope for the future.
  • Please Don’t try to fix your loved one’s problems on your own. Encourage him or her to get professional help.
  • Please Do have realistic expectations of your loved one. He or she can recover, but it won’t happen overnight. Be patient and keep a positive, hopeful attitude.
  • Please Do take care of yourself so you are able to be there for your loved one. Find support for yourself with understanding friends or relatives, in therapy of your own, at a DBSA support group, or other support group. It is important to take care of yourself, and it is normal for you to have symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression when someone you care about is ill. It’s important for you to build your own support system of people who will listen to you and be concerned about your well-being, including friends, relatives, and possibly a doctor or therapist. You might think your problems are minor in comparison to what your loved one is coping with, but that doesn’t mean you are any less deserving of help and comfort. Take time out for yourself, and make time to do things that relax you and things you enjoy. You will be best able to support the person you care about when you are healthy, rested and relaxed.
  • Please Do express your understanding and concern by acknowledging their struggles as a whole. Make helpful recommendations such as getting treatment. Arm yourself with helpful information about treatment and ways they can achieve it. Offer help if needed such as transportation and your willingness to join them if they don’t want to go alone.

What can I do to make sure my loved one gets good treatment?

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Encourage your loved one to seek treatment. Explain that treatment is not personality-altering and can greatly help to relieve symptoms.

Help him or her prepare for health care provider appointments by putting together a list of questions. Offer to go along to health care appointments.

With permission, talk to your loved one’s health care provider(s) about what you can do to help.

Encourage or help your loved one to get a second opinion from another health care provider if needed.

Help him or her keep records of symptoms, treatment, progress and setbacks in a journal or Personal Calendar.

Help him or her stick with the prescribed treatment plan. Ask if you can help by giving medication reminders.

Depression may cause someone to have feelings of unbearable sadness, guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness. The person does not want to feel this way, but can’t control it. Make sure the person’s doctor knows what is happening, and ask if you can help with everyday tasks such as housekeeping, running errands, or watching children.

Help your loved one try to stick to some sort of daily routine, even if he or she would rather stay in bed.

Spend quiet time together at home if he or she does not feel like talking or going out.

Keep reminding your loved one that you are there to offer support. It can be helpful to say things like: “I’m here for you”, “I care”, “I may not understand your pain, but I can offer my support”, “You are a worthwhile person and you mean a lot to me”, “Your brain is lying to you right now, and that is part of the illness”, “Don’t give up. You can get through this.”


What to do in Crisis Situation

If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave the person alone.

In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK