We’re in the home stretch of a very challenging year. Are you ready to address some of this year’s “new normal” risks? It’s a given that employers should be evaluating their ability to mitigate risk of COVID-19 in the physical workspace, from screenings and physical barriers to policy that addresses exposure. But what about the other risks that may be less obvious but can lead to serious incidents? Is COVID-19 related workplace violence consulting needed for your office environment?
Here are a few real-life examples of recent incidents that may help your business think about other risks: A business must comply with a local ordinance making face coverings mandatory in public spaces. The language of the ordinance is somewhat ambiguous, offering exceptions to persons who have a “medical condition, mental health condition, developmental disability, or for whom no other accommodation can be offered under the Americans with disabilities act,” as well as “silent or invisible disabilities,” “religious beliefs” that would prevent them from wearing a face covering, along with other exceptions. Enforcement of the ordinance belongs to the local health department, with no language in the ordinance that addresses how the business should handle a noncompliant employee or visitor to its site.
The business also has an employee with a disability that requires reasonable accommodations under the ADA because that employee is high-risk for infection…but has a job that cannot be worked remotely. The business, lacking guidance about how to balance the employee’s request for reasonable accommodations with an ordinance it lacked the ability to enforce, posted signage that masks were required in the building, had someone wiping down elevator buttons periodically throughout the day, and that was the extent of their accommodation. When a non-compliant employee who stated he had a “reason” for not wearing a face covering attempted to get into an elevator, the high-risk employee attempted to block his entry, afraid to let him in. You can probably guess where this is headed…perhaps for some businesses a new category of risk: COVID-19-related workplace violence.
WFH: Working from home has benefits and risks
What about risks associated with employees who, for various reasons, are continuing to work remotely? An employee working on any proprietary data, for example, such as sales data, marketing plans, new product information? Consider the business whose salesforce is working remotely in various cities and regions. One of them lived in a large apartment building and used a home wifi network she shared with several roommates. She came to the physical workspace occasionally when her apartment started feeling crowded. The IT department traced a network problem to her laptop…and eventually, to the security of her home router. Policies related to information security should be reviewed and updated periodically, but the risks associated with work-from-home situations should warrant an immediate refresh of security practices and some means of auditing for issues.
The security of a workplace is paramount to its success, and threats are not always visible. From this point forward, with shifting parameters to both workspace and workforce, it’s important for business executives to carefully assess their responsibilities towards employees and gauge potential need for workplace violence consulting assistance.
Looking for an IMG Workplace Violence Consulting Expert?
IMG GlobalSecur has decades of experience in the security industry. Our team of international workplace violence consulting experts stand ready to help you navigate the changing times. We offer global risk assessments, supply chain security consulting services, crisis management and business continuity advice, supply chain & logistics security assistance and more. Contact us today!