The Importance of Workplace Violence and Sexual Harassment Training
Friday, September 28th, 2018
In 2006, New York State enacted legislation requiring public employers to develop and implement programs to prevent workplace violence that includes providing training. In 2018 – New York State mandated Sexual Harassment training be administered to all employees across all sectors in order to combat harassment in the workplace.
Federally, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), Section 5(a) (1) states that “each employer shall furnish to each of his employees, employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his/her employees.” As it is connected to the overall health and safety of harassment victims and their co-workers, it can be covered under the General Duty Clause. This requires all employers, public and private, to take feasible steps to minimize the risks of both workplace violence and sexual harassment.
Let’s take a look at the connections between sexual harassment and/or workplace violence and worker safety and health:
- Increased stress for victims which can lead to a variety of physical ailments
- Inability of victims or bystanders to focus on doing their job correctly and safely
- Inability of managers and supervisors to effectively respond to or deal with incidents
- Intimidation that causes victims to be reluctant to raise legitimate safety issues for fear of being ridiculed
- Escalation from harassment to violence that takes the form of actual or threatened physical contact
So what are your options as an employer to ensure you properly manage this aspect of health and safety at your facility or on-site? The first step is hazard recognition, and to be honest, sexual harassment and workplace violence are potential hazards every workplace faces. Step two, develop policies, procedures, and programs that address your organization’s stance on workplace violence and sexual harassment; include definitions, responsibilities, steps to prevent incidents, procedures to follow in case of an incident, and training requirements- ensure all employees are aware of and understand your program. Step three, train your managers, supervisors, and employees!
Training should be informative, interactive, and most importantly effective! It should cover definitions, reporting procedures, contain scenarios, involve the audience, and more. Live drills should be a part of the training session(s), in a class room setting you’ve given the students the knowledge the drill will ensure that knowledge was retained and will also give them the skills needed to react properly in a real-life situation.