Violence in the Workplace: 3 Steps to Keep Your Dental Team Safe

Violence in the Workplace: 3 Steps to Keep Your Dental Team Safe

Taking action to prevent workplace violence has become increasingly urgent to businesses. With violence in society becoming a growing problem, workplace violence continues to be a prevalent and serious problem in the workplace. Workplace violence prevention training is crucial to keep your employees and patients safe when they are at your office.  

When you understand the process for preventing workplace violence, you can be part of the solution and make your practice a safer place for all.

Here are three steps to implement to keep your dental team safe.

1. Analyze Your Workplace and The Environment 

Employers are required to help prevent workplace harassment and violence. By doing so, employers need to look for and fix hazards by performing a hazard assessment. A thorough analysis of your workplace is necessary to understand where the risks present themselves and the extent to which prevention training should focus. The best solution when it comes to preventing hazards is by eliminating or where they cannot be eliminated, then they should be controlled

The Hierarchy of Controls: 

  • Engineering Controls: Eliminating or controlling hazard at the source. 
  • Administrative Controls: Used to control the hazard to a level that is as low as reasonably achievable (safe work policies, practices, and procedures)  
  • Personal Protective Equipment: PPE reduces harmful effects when other controls are not possible and additional protection is needed.  

Do you know where your dental team stands in terms of workplace violence prevention? Ask yourself questions about your existing organizational system that can help identify the risk factors in your workplace.

  • Has there been violence in your workplace before? 
  • What about other workplaces in your region? 
  • When what kind, and who was involved? 
  • How safe is the physical environment? Which doors stay locked 
  • How are employees protected if they leave late at night? 
  • How are employees protected while working alone?

2. Implement Training and Awareness Programs

It's essential to take steps to prevent violence in the workplace, but it's equally as important to prepare your people to respond. Your workplace violence training program needs to educate your employees on workplace hazards within the workplace, recognize the signs of dangers, what to do in the case of a violent incident and how to report it. It is crucial to train your employees on what to report, when to report and how to report instances of violence in the workplace so that decisive actions can be taken quickly, and a response can be initiated in a controlled and responsible manner.

Taking the time to train employees on the alert signs for any potential workplace violence can stop an incident before it starts. Having conflict de-escalation skills in your back pocket to calm angry patients or diffuse tense situations within the clinic would be a great asset to your team and safety.  

Conflict de-escalation strategies: 

  • Calmly look at the situation and how you can intervene safely. 
  • Use a low, dull tone of voice, and don't get defensive.  
  • Become aware of your situation and surroundings  
  • Listen to the person's concerns. - Acknowledge the other person's feelings without passing judgment on them. 
  • Clarify, paraphrase, and ask open-ended questions to reassure the person you are aware of and understand their frustrations.  
  • Shift the conversation to the future and create hope for resolution

When responding to potentially threatening behavior, consider the individual patient, the circumstances, and the overall context of the situation. It's important to understand that no single response or technique will work in every case but rather a menu of options that may be helpful. 

3. Enforce Investigation and Reporting Policies  

Suppose your workplace does experience a violent situation or prevents one from occurring, in that case, your employees should report the incident while reassuring that their confidentiality is protected and no retaliation will be made against anyone reporting. By law, the OHS legislation demands all employers to investigate any incident, take action, address the incident, and make corrections to prevent it from happening again.  

Follow up the report of an incident with analysis will help you determine several factors:  

  • Who was affected, and what, if any, warning signs were present?  
  • Were existing procedures and operations followed, and if not, why? 
  • Were team members adequately trained?  

An investigation report outlining the circumstances of the incident and the new procedures and operations that will help to improve staff safety and security must be documented and readily available to provide a copy to an OHS officer upon request. This is all in place for employers to modify the existing plans and ensure the business can effectively prevent workplace violence.

Workplace violence prevention training and implementation may not be the most exciting training you have ever offered your employees; still, it is one of the most critical trainings for your organization. At Stream Dental HR, not only do we understand the frontline risks that come with working in a dental office with the general public, but we are also experts in developing Health & Safety programs. We can help make it easier for you and your staff to stay safe in the workplace by customizing your needs. 

Contact us for more information.