VIOLENCE AT WORK IMPROVING CARE FOR VICTIMS
TWO KEY ACTIONS Assault, sexual assault, robberies, threatsâ€Ś violence in the workplace takes many forms and represents a critical issue in some sectors. The figures are worrying: in 2004, among the 2,000,000 serious violent acts recorded in Canada, 356,000 were committed in the workplace. Whether these acts are committed by a member of the public or an employee, the physical and psychological impact on victims and witnesses can be profound, and can also affect organizations as a whole. Since the 1980s, research efforts and awareness
campaigns have led to a series of initiatives designed to prevent workplace violence. Unfortunately, it is difficult to judge how effective these initiatives have been since few have been evaluated. Consequently, we need to develop further
knowledge regarding workplace violence prevention strategies to determine which are the most effective.
QUESTIONS... One point must be made: there is very little rigorous scientific data on strategies designed to prevent workplace violence. This is due to a lack of a solid theoretical foundation for action in this field and a lack of precise and standardized research measures.
In the field, managers can act on
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before violence occurs. These prevention measures apply to all aspects of the organization.
immediately following a violent incident. Medical services, emergency services, and psychological support services: responsive action differs depending on the type of violent act committed.
longer-term response designed to support victims of violence in their rehabilitation and reinsertion efforts. Organizational change may also be implemented to prevent the recurrence of violence.
Many questions remain to be answered regarding each of these levels of intervention. Should we invest in making the physical environment more secure or in employee training? Should we target employees who are at greater risk? Beyond the issue of the effectiveness of various prevention measures, which of these strategies represent the best cost-benefit ratio? Currently, despite multiple recommended and available courses of action, decision-makers have few reliable tools they can use to validate their choices.
PrEvenTION & ASSESSMENT:
The scientific literature on workplace violence has nevertheless established certain findings. In particular, it is recognized that a global approach is more effective in preventing workplace violence than action of more limited scope. A global approach applies to three fundamental aspects in all organizations, namely, management, environment, and training. In addition to a global approach, another key issue must be considered: the need to customize interventions not only to the workplace but also to the target workforce. What is the point of applying prevention measures that are inadequate or ineffective in practice? Among the factors
to be considered, the level of risk incurred is also critical. While protecting employees is crucial, applying too many restrictive and unnecessary measures is undesirable. Studies have also shown that interventions that call on team spirit are generally more effective. Besides, taking
into account differences in gender-specific needs can help to extend the scope of interventions.
Beyond these general observations, we need to gain a better understanding of workplace-specific differences and effective gender-based measures, for which little documentation exists.
prevention strategies scientifically. Such an approach is absolutely required to identify the most effective management practices designed to prevent workplace violence and its multiple consequences.
lose momentum. One thing is certain: these efforts will bear fruit, since they will have a direct impact on occupational health and related social and economic costs.
That is why it is important to implement a structured and rigorous assessment approach in efforts to evaluate different
Once this approach has been implemented, we need to show persistence and perseverance to ensure that interventions do not
Funded by the Institute of Gender and Health of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the VISAGE research team at the Trauma Studies Centre of the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal develops partnerships with targeted professional sectors in order to enhance clinical and organizational aspects of care for workers exposed to, or at high risk of being exposed to, serious violent acts. The team's goal is to develop and share knowledge on workplace violence with a view to recommending strategies that take into account differences in gender-based needs. Collaborators: Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail, secteur affaires municipales (APSAM), Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail, secteur administration provinciale (APSSAP), Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail du secteur des affaires sociales (ASSTSAS)