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.

🍗🍗🍗The Day You’ve Been Waiting for is Almost Here! Don’t Spend it in the Emergency Room…

In the last 30 years it has been documented that Thanksgiving and the weekend that follows bring the largest annual amount of emergency room visits in the United States.  While most professionals state there is no exact reason for this coincidence and most issues patients are facing are common issues, it is a phenomenon that patients and hospitals alike wish could be avoided.

The preparation and mass consumption of a rich variety of food can send people to the emergency room for minor issues such as a cut thumb while turkey carving. Moderate and Major ailments and emergencies can also occur including gastrointestinal pain, sugar consumption issues, heart attacks and many others.

Dr. Corey Slovis, chairman of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says the emergency department at Vanderbilt sees more patients coming in with chest pain on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening than on other days. “Some people consuming massive amounts of food are not in good shape to begin with,” he says. Overeating at a meal also can be a risk for some, as an excess of salt can be dangerous for people with conditions like congestive heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes or high blood pressure. “We see the effects of overindulgence,” Slovis says. “If people have heart disease, it can cause heart attacks.”

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Food preparation can result in emergency department visits. A common incident, according to Slovis, is people accidentally cutting their fingers and hands with a carving knife. Other times, people might get burned while trying to deep fry a turkey. The CDC cautions about proper care of food to avoid food-borne illnesses. The agency estimates that food-borne diseases each year cause roughly 1 in 6 Americans, or 48 million people, to get sick each year, hospitalizing 128,000 and killing 3,000. Bacterial contamination is high with any raw meat, says the American College of Emergency Physicians, and some food can make people sick if not heated properly or refrigerated afterward.

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To learn more about safe and proper food handling and preparation, please visit the website for: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Members of the American College of Emergency Physicians say another common emergency department visit involves injuries from people playing football, or doing anything athletic, when they aren’t used to such activity.

The holidays also can bring about mental health issues in addition to physical ones. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people diagnosed with a mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse, increasing symptoms such as sadness, loss, fatigue and frustration.

And, of course, there are always issues with long distance driving.  Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of holiday travelers this year will journey by car between Wednesday and Sunday. This represents the highest volume seen since 2007 and the third-highest since tracking by AAA began in 2000. Thanksgiving in recent years has been the deadliest holiday for road travelers.  In 2012, 416 people died in traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday, which is defined as lasting from Wednesday to Monday, according to the most recent available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of The majority of victims who died – 60 % were not wearing seat belts, and 42 % were killed in crashes involving a drunken driver.

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Here are 5 ways for you and your loved ones to avoid that crowded ER Waiting Room and enjoy your quality time together:

  1. Know your dietary limits!  Does your health require dietary guidelines that need to be followed? While we all want to give in to seasonal treats, some of us simply cannot afford to.  Do not cheat on any restrictions your physician has provided you for your own health! If possible, let the host know in advance of your restrictions or bring food items within your approved diet.
  2. Know your physical limits! If you’re not an athletic individual or you don’t exercise on a regular basis, do not overextend yourself in any physical activities such as back yard football. If you’re hosting a Thanksgiving celebration at your home, be sure to offer less physical activities such as horseshoes or charades!
  3. Safe handling of food is a must! Without proper care in the preparation and handling of your holiday eats, your entire party could end up in the emergency room! Learn the important steps in food handling and preparation by visiting the CDC’s food safety webpage here:  https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/groups/consumers.html
  4. Smart and Safe Driving is a must! Remember thousands of holiday travelers will be on the same freeways as you between November 23rd-27th this year (and every year that number increases).  Many drivers will be tired from eating a big feast and family activities while others may be intoxicated after celebrating more than they are used to.  We urge you not to drink and drive by having a designated driver, using a professional transportation service, or eating plenty to sober up after drinks. Avoid driving when you are extremely tired.  History shows us that people are generally sleepy after a large Thanksgiving meal, so be sure to get proper rest before getting behind the wheel of a car. Unfortunately, not everyone will follow these important driving suggestions so be sure that you and all of your passengers wear your seatbelts!
  5. Remember your loved ones who are ill.  Be sure to have foods available to supplement the dietary needs of your guests who have special needs.  Labeling your foods is a great way to advise your guests what items they may need to avoid.  But, don’t forget physical illness is not the only illness some people suffer.  People with mental illness suffer in silence. So, be sure to take a moment to reach out to everyone you love and let them know they are in your thoughts.  Sometimes, just a brief moment of showing you care to someone who feels alone makes an incredible impact on their day.  Encourage those who are alone to celebrate with you.  Just by opening your door and your heart you could save a life!

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❄😔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

Can You “Party Hearty” Safely? Holiday Party Do’s ✅ & Dont’s🚫

The term “Party Hardy” originates from a misinterpretation of “Party Hearty” and though they are similar in meaning, the urban translation of “Party Hardy” is dominated by the ‘college rules’ of partying hard with alcohol whereas the “hearty” concept is focused on celebrating with loved ones.  Today, both terms exist and it’s not impossible to achieve both while being safe.

It’s that time of year again, the season when everyone is throwing a party! 🎉🎉🎉

Parties are a great way for people to socialize and have fun. Whether you are hosting or attending a party, it is important to be safe. No one wants a party ruined by beligerent  behavior, damaged property, or someone being injured. When you’re feeling festive, safety may be the last thing on your mind. We don’t want to rain on your parade with a list of things that can go wrong, so we’re sharing ways to ensure things go right!

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For the Hosts with the Most

Careful planning of your party can help reduce the risk of problems occurring and ensure everyone has a great time. If anything goes wrong at the party, or even after the party, and you haven’t taken care to prevent this, you could be held liable. Follow these wise tips for hosting your event to have a well safe an lively soiree at your home this Holiday Season:

Set up 

How a party is set up can influence your guests’ behavior and either assist or hinder security.

Do place food where people gather but keep the alcohol serving area small and away from crowded areas. Eating can slow the pace of drinking.

Do fill people up so they are less likely to drink, it slows down the process of getting drunk. Only serving alcoholic drinks on request and do not let anyone go around topping off alcoholic drinks.

Do consider having a person who is not drinking in charge of the bar area who can help control the amount of alcohol consumed.

Entertainment 

Do provide activities such as a pool table, board games, dance music, karaoke and movies. This may keep people entertained and take the focus off drinking.

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For the Best Guest

When going to a party, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that you and your friends have an enjoyable and safe time. Many require the safe and sensible consumption of alcohol. When too much alcohol is consumed, drunken behavior can spoil a party. Follow these sensible suggestions to be sure you get invited to all the festivities:

Transportation

I know we don’t have to remind you not to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car, but we’re doing it anyway!

Don’t drink and drive, please!

Do organize a lift with a person who is not going to be drinking.  Use Über or Lyft on your smart phone, have local cab service contact information stored in your cell phone, or see if the hosts have offered guests to stay overnight.

Don’t drive while overly tired. Even if you stay sober, when you party hearty or hardy you may be too tired to drive which can be just as dangerous!

Behavior 

Being a appealing guest depends on your behavior.  Remember, excessive alcohol consumption effects your behavior. So, to avoid embarrassing yourself or other guests,

Do keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum by starting your evening with a non-alcoholic drink to quench your thirst before drinking alcohol and have a non-alcoholic drink every second or third drink to stay at a reasonable pace.

Don’t gulp down your drinks in situations where you feel the need to keep up the pace. Try drinking a low alcohol % drink or drink from a smaller glass.

Eat Well 

Do eat before you arrive at the party as well as snacking between adult beverages.  If you have a full stomach, alcohol will be absorbed more slowly.

Don’t eat too many salty snacks – they make you thirsty so you drink more.

Stay Active 

Do play games, dance or talk to friends. If you have something to do, you tend to drink less. Be the social butterfly you know you can be!

Stay Smart 

Do refuse a drink if you feel the need. It’s perfectly ok! Only you know your limits.

Don’t encourage them to drink when they refuse, you cannot know what they’re limits are either.

Other Things to Consider

Invitations: The type of guests invited will influence a range of decisions about the type of party. A children’s party will require different planning than a party for older teenagers, and a party aimed at adults will have different requirements from one aimed at families. For some parties, written invitations send a message that the party is for invited guests only. Including a request to RSVP can help with planning. If the party is for younger people, the invitation provides a first point of contact with other parents.

Food and Drink: Will you be supplying food and drinks, or is it BYO? If people will be drinking alcohol,  make sure there is food and plenty of low-alcoholic, and non-alcohol alternatives. If you are preparing the food be sure to follow the rules for safe and healthy food preparation.  Label foods that may effect food allergies such as “Brownies with Peanuts”.

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Locations: Will people have to drive there? How many people can it capacitate comfortably? Is it an open space or are there gates and doors you can use to monitor who is coming and going? Think about how people will be getting home and who is driving. What if they are affected by alcohol or too tired to drive safely? You may need to have spare bedding available for guests who need to stay overnight or other arrangements to ensure guests can get home safely.

Security: You may wish to consider organizing security to help at the party. We also encourage you to register your party with your local police station or security service in gated communities. This ensures they already have all the information they need to know about the party in the event they need to be called for assistance.


We hope you are invited to all of the finest affairs you can handle this Holiday Season, or that you host the most fabulous shindig in town.  And, we wish you only the best of times!

 

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