With workplace violence on the rise, it’s critical that employers and human resources professionals know the signs and take action. Criminal history reports are the first step in weeding out prospective employees most likely to cause trouble. For staff already on site, employers must remain alert to warning signs like frequent discussion of weapons, threatening behavior and chronic stress.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that an average of 18,000 workers are assaulted, and 20 are killed, each week in the United States. How many violent incidents could be prevented if all employers conducted background checks including criminal history reports before making a hire?
Safe hiring practices
The University of Connecticut reports that it considers criminal history checks prior to employment to be a critical element of a secure workplace for university employees. Criminal history reports can help spot potential workers who might be predisposed to violent episodes and other crimes, the university notes.
State laws vary regarding how employers may use criminal background history in hiring decisions, the U.S. Small Business Administration notes. The administration advises employers to consult with a lawyer before determining whether an applicant has a criminal report.
Signs and risk factors
The threat of workplace violence increases in the presence of several risk factors, the CDC reports. They include working with the public, delivering services or goods and exchanging cash and other currency.
The CDC advises that when possible, employers incorporate physical separation of workers from customers, use bright lighting and alarm systems, implement a system for escorting employees through remote and dark areas, and train employees to respond to violent incidents.
The San Diego State University Research Foundation lists early warning signs that can be precursors to possible violent behavior of an individual:
- Paranoid behavior.
- Intense interest in weapons.
- Severe stress or evidence of personal problems.
- Making threats.
- Keeping distance from other employees.
- Arguing with co-workers.
- Violent or volatile situation at home.
While no amount of preparation can put an end to all workplace violence, employers can take steps to provide a safe working environment by conducting background checks including criminal history reports of all prospective employees. Knowing the warning signs of violent behavior also can help prevent tragedies.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide professional or legal advice regarding actions to take in any situation.