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Preventing COVID-Related Workplace Violence: Tips from the CDC

Toby Graham /

Workplace COVID prevention procedures such as masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. But most of us, whether we’re workers or customers, are willing to make a few sacrifices for the health and safety of ourselves and others.

Most of us.

Some people refuse to do their part. Rather than acting responsibly, they’ve flouted precautions and lashed out in dangerous ways—spitting on supermarket employees, assaulting hospital staff, tearing down plexiglass barriers, and so on and so forth.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a guide to help employers reduce these kinds of incidents.

Here are the CDC’s tips for limiting workplace violence associated with COVID-19 prevention policies:

  • Offer customers options to minimize their contact with others, stay socially distanced, and avoid crowding.
  • Let customers know about COVID prevention policies by posting signs and providing information on your website.
  • Develop and implement workplace violence response procedures. These differ depending on the business and situation at hand, but may necessitate an employee to report the situation to management, call security or 911, or both.
  • Keep an eye out for threatening or violent situations and be vigilant in supporting employees.
  • Create a two-person team to enforce COVID prevention policies, if possible.
  • Install security systems such as panic buttons, cameras, and alarms.
  • Designate a safe room or area where employees can go if they feel threatened. The CDC offers as an example “a room that locks from the inside, has a second exit route, and has a phone or silent alarm.”
  • Train employees on workplace violence prevention measures such as threat recognition, conflict resolution, and nonviolent response. Employees should know the warning signs of a violent incident as well as how to respond to the incident. According to the CDC, “[r]esponses 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.” Employees should also know how to operate any security systems and equipment.


For more information, visit the CDC’s webpage: “Limiting Workplace Violence Associated with COVID-19 Prevention Policies in Retail and Services Businesses.”

Is your organization doing everything it can to prevent the spread of COVID in the workplace while minimizing business disruptions?

Don’t put your people or your bottom line at risk. Protect your business, employees, and reputation with KPA’s COVID-19 Safety program.

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