The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out new workplace strategies for COVID-19-related violence prevention in order to avoid conflict if customers refuse to adhere to safety protocols being enforced by employees.
The CDC has posted information on limiting workplace violence related to retail and service businesses’ COVID-19 prevention policies. This information is also intended for other customer-based businesses, including department stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants that are opened and have implemented state, municipality, and company-directed Coronavirus prevention policies.
The policies that may prompt violence toward workers include requiring masks to be worn by employees and customers, asking customers to follow social distancing rules, and setting limits to the number of customers allowed in a business at any given time.
The CDC defines workplace violence as “violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty.” Workplace violence includes:
Employers are encouraged to take the following actions to prevent workplace violence:
As part of the training, employees often learn verbal and non-verbal cues that may be warning signs of possible violence. Verbal cues can include speaking loudly or swearing. Non-verbal cues can include clenched fists, heavy breathing, fixed stare, and pacing, among other behaviors. The more cues have shown, the greater the risk of violence.
During training, employees also learn how to appropriately respond to potentially violent or violent situations. Responses range from paying attention to a person and maintaining non-threatening eye contact to using supportive body language and avoiding threatening gestures, such as finger-pointing or crossed-arms.
Basic “dos” for employees to prevent workplace violence include:
Basic “don’ts” for employees to prevent workplace violence include: