Hire With Confidence

September 28, 2015

A shocking number of employees experience workplace violence every year. To combat this, learn what pre-employment questions to ask yourself.


The numbers are disturbing enough to keep business owners and managers awake at night: nearly two million American workers report being victims of workplace violence every year.

Two million workers. Those chilling figures come from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Workplace violence ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide, according to OSHA. To make matters worse, experts say that many cases go unreported.

As a result, businesses need to plan how to prevent workplace violence not only with current workers, but before potentially violent individuals are hired.

OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.”

That’s why it’s important to take preemptive steps to screen out workers who might demonstrate any propensity for dangerous or disruptive acts, so they aren’t hired in the first place.

Here are some OSHA recommendations to take with your current staff.

  • “One of the best protections employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence,” advises OSHA. “This policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.”
  • By assessing your work site, OSHA notes, you “can identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents occurring.” It also advises employers to have “a well written and implemented Workplace Violence Prevention Program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls and training.”
  • A workplace violence program can be incorporated into an injury and illness prevention program, employee handbook, or manual of standard operating procedures. “It is critical to ensure that all workers know the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly,” OSHA states.
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But taking action after an employee is hired might be too late. One way you may be able to reduce incidents is to do everything you can to make sure you aren’t hiring a dangerous worker and putting your employees and customers in harm’s way. That’s where pre-employment screening comes in. Thoroughly checking out job applicants can help prevent dangerous people from gaining access to your workplace.

Here are some questions that pre-employment screening can help answer:

  • Does a potential employee have a criminal record?
  • Can the applicant pass a drug test?
  • Are his or her claims of past employment, education and professional certification truthful?
  • Is the individual listed on the National Sex Offender Registry?
  • Has there been any professional disciplinary action against the individual?
  • Has he or she made any public threats, such as on social media?
  • Is he or she legally allowed to work in the United States?

Failing to answers questions like these before onboarding an employee can be costly to your business in many ways, from government penalties to lawsuits. Employers can be found liable for their employees’ actions in a negligent hiring lawsuit. Even if an incident happens, you may be able to avoid or mitigate claims of negligent hiring by showing that you took proactive steps to screen potential employees, such as conducting pre-employment screening.

“Workers have a right to a safe workplace,” OSHA declares. “The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces.”

TLC offers pre-employment screening services that can add peace of mind when hiring. There’s no 100 percent guarantee of predicting human behavior, but learning about a prospective employee’s past may well protect the future of your workplace.

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