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Offsite Safety – Workplace Violence Awareness

- October 19, 2016 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Workplace violence for offsite employees is something that you as the employer have little control over.  Therefore, educating your offsite employees to protect themselves when working in the field, and to avoid dangerous situations, is important to keeping work comp claims from piling up.  For this installment of the Off-Site Safety series, I will discuss how you can reduce the likelihood of your employees becoming a violent crime victim.

In addition to being a workplace safety expert, I also teach a self-defense class in my community, won Chicago Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament for my weight class, earned an amateur National Kickboxing Championship Title, and traveled to 3 countries to complete in full contact kickboxing.   In class, my primary goal is to teach my students how to avoid an attack – because despite being well qualified to fight, I know that avoiding the confrontation is my best bet.

Please share these reminders with your team to help keep them safe in the field: 

Remind your staff that their safety is more important than the job.

If they feel their personal safety is at risk, they are allowed to leave the worksite and should call the office immediately.  Too many times, employees just want to get the job done and don’t think about the risks they are taking with their personal safety.  Hearing this message about personal safety from upper management is very important.

Working in teams is always better than working alone. 

If your company can afford the man-hours, two people are less likely to be victimized because attackers usually look for the easiest target.

Being stationary and deep in thought makes for an easy target.

Staff should not sit in their vehicle before or after an appointment for more than a minute or two.  The longer they linger in their vehicle, the more of a targeted they become—especially if they are not paying attention to their surroundings.

Plan your trip in advance.

You cannot program a GPS systems to avoid crime ridden neighborhoods.  Always use the safest roadways, even if it means going out of your way.

Plan your rest stops.

In some neighborhoods, it is not smart to fill up your gas tank, get fast food, or use the rest room.   If I have a long break in between an appointment in certain neighborhoods, I will drive 15 minutes out of way to take my break.  A little extra mileage on my vehicle is hardly noticed as compared to a workplace violence incident.

Training your staff on a regular basis on awareness and prevention tactics is a key step in keeping field employee safe.   In my next blog, I will discuss how to prepare your employees to defend themselves if they are attacked.