What is a workplace safety plan and what should it include?
Workplace safety plans are a proactive list of security measures to minimize workplace danger.
They are crucial when addressing domestic violence at work as they identify a process of action to increase workplace safety when an employee is experiencing domestic violence.
Union representatives should be familiar with safety plans whether or not domestic violence has come up before at the workplace.
Features of domestic violence safety plan at work should:
- Be made with the victim as they know best the habits of their abuser
- Be a flexible, changeable document
- Be easily accessible and visible
- Find a balance between confidentiality and safety - workers should be warned that although disclosed information will be made confidential, there may be exceptional circumstances where it is necessary to seek outside consultation due to safety concerns
Elements in safety plans could include:
- Assisting victims in screening calls
- Having an appropriate number of security staff at workplace
- Panic buttons around the workplace
- Walking the victim to/from car or public transportation before/after work, ensuring they have the most secure parking spots
- Ensuring the victim’s cell phone has 911 on direct dial
- Using internal code words
- Specified grounds for when police should called
- Ensuring doors are monitored and/or locked
- Having an trusted emergency contact for the victim if they are absent and the employer cannot reach the worker
- Ensuring that all employees understand the safety planning process and procedures for DV in the workplace, including a basic understanding of warning signs
- Having workplace parking lots and entryways well lit
- Having monitoring and surveillance equipment is appropriately placed around the workplace
- Locating work places appropriately (ie: distance between employees and clients/visitors)
- Helping the employee be less visible (possibly removing their name off an office door, taking their name off the website)
- Attempting to have a written record of victim/abuser correspondence
- If the abuser and the victim work together, employers should make adjustments so the perpetrator cannot access the victim at work (different schedules, locations)
- Employers could also consider looking into a protective order in which case abusers will not work onsite
- Always call 911 if there is a sense of immediate danger
You can find a template of an individualized safety plan here (adapted from Western Education Make it Our Business, OHSCO Developing Workplace Violence and Harassment Policies and Programs, UNSW Safe at Home, Safe at Work).