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Protecting Yourself in the Workplace

Protecting yourself in the workplace is important and often overlooked. We come to think of our coworkers as friends and let our guard down. All coworkers are not friends as all customers are not pleasant either. Even at work, being prepared for any situation will keep you from being caught off guard.

Handling Coworkers

The most common form of danger in the workplace is workplace violence perpetrated by coworkers. It could be a coworker having a bad day or someone who has anger management issues. Your attitude can go a long way towards diffusing a situation.

Things usually get out of control during arguments. No one wants to be outdone. Trying to get the last word could end up in a physical fight right then and there or being attacked as you walk to your car after work. If you find yourself in a situation with a coworker that turns volatile, here are some tips:

- Concede that the other person is right.

- Talk to your manager immediately and report the situation.

- Go to human resources and find out what additional actions need to be taken to protect yourself.

In the case of disgruntled coworkers who have been fired but show up on the property, alert a supervisor immediately. In most cases, employees will be warned that this person is not allowed back into the building. If you see them, do not let them in "for old times sake." Their presence at the workplace suggests that their intentions are not honorable.

Any situation with coworkers that makes you feel threatened needs to be fully documented. This is especially important in cases of sexual harassment. Many women (and yes, men) are tempted to laugh it off and forget about it but that will not solve the problem. Either it will continue happening to you or it will happen to someone else.

Report sexual harassment immediately to your supervisor and human resources. Know the procedures for handling this type of situation from your employee handbook. Taking action right away can avoid an ugly situation later.

Unruly Customers

If you work in a job where you deal with the public, there are going to be numerous chances each day for unfavorable confrontations. Angry customers who see you first will take their frustrations out on you. These situations can always turn violent quickly.

When you are first approached, be on your guard. Do your best to calm them down. Put as much distance or objects between you and them as you can. Get help from other coworkers around you.

Workplace violence is a serious issue. Many people have been injured and killed by a disgruntled coworker or customer. Take measures to protect yourself from both.

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