So, in celebration of Independence Day, here is a summary of worker rights and strategies workers can use to protect themselves from workplace violence and bullying.
OSHA defines workplace violence as an act of violence or the threat of violence against workers.
Who is vulnerable?
Some 2 million American Workers are the victims of workplace violence each year.
What can employees do to protect themselves? OSHA tells us nothing can guarantee that an employee will not become a victim of workplace violence. But here a a few things OSHA says employees can do to reduce the odds.
Learn how to recognize, avoid, or diffuse potentially violent situations by attending safety programs.
Alert supervisors to any concerns about safety or security and report all incidents in writing.
Avoid traveling alone or carrying large amounts of money while out in the community.
What does OSHA recommend employers should do following an incident of Workplace violence?
Encourage employees to report and log all incidents and threats of workplace violence.
Provide prompt medical evaluation and treatment after the incident
Report violent incidents to the local police promptly
Inform victims of their legal right to prosecute perpetrators
Discuss the circumstances of the incident with staff members. Encourage employees to share information about ways to avoid similar situations in the future.
Offer stress debriefing sessions and post traumatic counseling services to help workers recover from a violent incident
Investigate all violent incidents and threats, monitor trends in violent incidents by type or circumstance, and institute corrective actions.
Discuss changes in the program during employee meetings.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act's General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all workers covered by OSH Act. Employers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate a recognized violence hazard in the workplace can be cited.
Need more information?
OSHA's website is www.osha.gov.
WA State Department of Labor and Industries handout on Workplace Bullyinghttp://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Files/Bullying.pdf
Resource List for Workplace Violence Prevention http://www.pef.org/healthandsafety/resource_list_workplace_violence_prevention.htm
Workplace Violence - WA Dept of Labor and Industries http://www.lni.wa.gov/IPUB/417-140-000.pdf
To file a OSHA complaint by phone, report an emergency, or get OSHA advice, assistance, or products, contact your nearest Department of Labor listing in the phone book or call 800 231-6742.
Complaints may also be filed online.
In an August 17, 2007 — CIO article — Bob Weinstein asks, "Is your boss a tyrant of Machiavellian proportions? If it makes you feel better, you're not alone. According to a study by the Employment Law Alliance, almost half of all employees have been targeted by a bully boss." (Link is posted below).
The Employment Alliance study revealed that:
81 percent of bullies are managers.
50 percent of bullies are women and 50 percent are men.
84 percent of targets are women.
82 percent of targets ultimately lost their job. (Time to update your resume)
95 percent of bullying is witnessed
Here is a list of articles and books that may be helpful for individuals who are attempting to deal with a workplace bully.
"How to Deal with Bully Bosses" (CIO)
"Do you have a bad manager? Someone who makes your life miserable all week by criticizing your every move? Experts offer their tips on handling bully and toxic bosses." By Bob Weinstein:
The Boss and You Survival Guide: http://www.cio.com/special-reports/boss-and-you/index
"How to Deal with a Workplace Bully" by Sabrinacareer.
"When I think of bullies, I usually think of playgrounds and children, or even high-schools. But I never thought that I would find bullies in the workplace, but I did and more than once. Although anyone can become a victim, in the United States 80 percent of the time the person being bullied is a woman, according to an online survey by The Workplace Bullying & Trauma Institute (WBTI). If your boss or even a co-worker is treating you worse than dirt, your health could be jeopardized."
"Is your boss getting you down?"
"Do you feel like throwing in the towel to end the nightmare, by way of resigning? Do you struggle to get to sleep at night due to worrying about going to work on the next day? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then this article may well be of benefit to you. In the article I will be giving tips and advice about how to deal with an over-aggressive boss." Article by Steve Hill: http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Deal-With-an-Aggressive-Bully-Of-a-Boss&id=1210681
"A workplace bully can make you hate your job."
"He or she can make you not want to get out of bed in the morning. Going to work everyday can be torture if you know you will face a workplace bully when you get there. The person making your life miserable could be a co-worker or it could be your boss, which adds a whole new dimension to this problem. Regardless of who has made it his or her business to torture you, you have to do something about it -- your job is at stake." Dawn Rosenberg McKay http://careerplanning.about.com/b/2007/08/08/how-to-deal-with-a-workplace-bully.htm
Workplace Predators: Here is a list of books that discuss strategies for dealing with workplace stalkers and other violent predators. A short summary of each title is included.
How to Stop a Stalker
Veteran Detective Mike Proctor Tells You: How to identify a stalker, how they stalk and why they do it, what to do if you are being stalked, how to collect evidence, how to get the justice system on your side, and what to do in court.
If you are a victim of a stalker or suspect that you might be, this book will give you the means, not only to protect yourself, but ultimately to put the stalker behind bars.
The Gift of Fear
Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
We all know there are plenty of reasons to fear people from time to time. The question is, what are those times?
Stalkers and Their Victims
Paul E. Mullen, Michele Pathe, Rosemary Purcell
Over recent years, stalking has emerged as a major social and legal issue, and also as a clinical problem for mental health professionals. This absorbing and informative book draws on the authors' extensive experience of working with stalkers and their victims in the clinical setting, and makes a major contribution toward understanding the nature, causes, impact and management of stalking.
Topics included: The growing recognition of stalking as an issue of public legal and scientific concern. The definition, classification and epidemiology of stalking. The impact on victims, and how this may be reduced. Same-gender stalking, stalking by proxy, workplace stalking, and the stalking of professionals, such as doctors and teachers.
Surviving a Stalker
Everything You Need To Know To Keep Yourself Safe by Linden Gross
Most people believe that stalkers only target the rich and famous, not the average citizen. The truth is, stalking is one of the most prevalent yet overlooks forms of domestic violence in America today, with an estimated 1.4 million people nationwide stalked each year. And that figure does not even include the rising number of people being harassed on the Internet.