Take Crime Prevention to Work
When you go to work, don’t leave your crime prevention sense at home. Almost any crime that can happen at home or in your neighborhood, can happen in the workplace. But common-sense prevention skills can help make life “at work” safer for all.
HELP PREVENT OFFICE THEFT AND OTHER CRIMES
- Keep your purse, wallet, keys, or other valuable items with you at all times or locked in a drawer or closet.
- Check the identity of any strangers who are in your office – ask whom they are visiting and if you can help them find that person. If this makes you uncomfortable, inform security or management about your suspicions.
- Always let someone know where you’ll be – whether it’s coming in late, working late, going to the photocopier or mail room, going out to lunch or a meeting.
- If you bring personal items to work, such as a coffee pot, a radio, or a calculator, mark them with your name or initials and an identification number.
- Report any broken or flickering lights, dimly lit corridors, doors that don’t lock properly, or broken windows. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.
- Be discreet. Don’t advertise your social life or vacation plans and those of your co-workers to people visiting or calling your place of work.
TAKE A LOOK AT COMMON TROUBLE SPOTS
- Reception area – Is the receptionist equipped with a panic button for emergencies, a camera with a monitor at another employee’s desk, and lock on the front door that can be controlled?
- Stairwells and out-of-the-way corridors – Don’t use the stairs alone. Talk to the building manager about improving poorly lighted corridors and stairways.
- Elevators – Don’t get into elevators with people who look out of place or behave in a strange or threatening manner. If you find yourself in an elevator with someone who makes you nervous, get off as soon as possible.
- Restrooms – Attackers can hide in stalls and corners. Make sure restrooms are locked and only employees have keys. Be extra cautious when using restrooms that are isolated or poorly lighted.
- After hours – Don’t work alone. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation or ask security to escort you.
- Parking lots or garages – Choose a well-lighted, well-guarded parking garage. Always lock your car and roll the windows up all the way. If you notice any strangers handing around the parking lot, notify security or the police. When you approach your car, have the key ready. Check the floor and front and back seats before you get in. Lock your car as soon as you get in – before you buckle your seat belt.
WHAT ABOUT VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE?
Violence in the workplace takes many forms, from raised voices and profanity or sexual harassment to robbery or homicide. While homicide in the workplace is rising, 75 percent of work-related homicides are committed by unknown assailants while committing a robbery or other crimes. Despite media hype, the attacker usually isn’t a disgruntled co-worker. To assess a workplace’s vulnerability to violence, ask yourself these questions.
- Is your office secure? Do you have easy-to-use phone systems with emergency buttons, sign-in policies for visitors, panic buttons, safe rooms, security guards, office access controls, good lighting, and safety training?
- Does your employers take care in hiring and firing? Before hiring, are employment gaps, history, references, and criminal and educational records thoroughly examined? Are termination procedures defined clearly with attention to advance notice, severance pay, and placement services?
- Could you recognize potentially violent employees? Signs of stress that could erupt into violence include: depression, frequent absences, talking in a louder-than-normal voice, being startled easily, increased irritability and impatience, and concentration and memory problems.
- Are you encouraged to report unusual or worrisome behavior? Is there a clear, written policy that spells out procedures in cases of violence and sanctions for violators? Make sure you know to whom you should report unusual behaviors.
- Do you work in a supportive, harmonious environment? Is there a culture of mutual respect? Does your employer provide an employee assistance program (EAP)?
On The Job – Achohol & Drug Abusers Hurt Everyone
There’s a very good chance that someone where you work abuses alcohol or other drugs.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
It’s a problem that affects everyone. Workers who abuse alcohol and drugs –
- Are far less productive.
- Miss more work days.
- Are more likely to injure themselves or someone else.
- File more worker’s compensation claims.
Employers can’t absorb all these costs – they’re passed on to employees through higher insurance premiums and reduced salaries or benefit packages, and to consumers through higher-priced products.
Hidden costs are high – stress to others who continually fill in for absent or tardy co-workers, damage to equipment, drains on supervisory times, damage to the company’s public image.
DON’T TURN YOUR BACK ON SOMEONE IN TROUBLE
Don’t enable a troubled employee to continue using alcohol or drugs by ignoring the problem, lying or covering up, doing his or her job, or lending money.
Signs of abuse include:
- Frequent tardiness or absenteeism.
- Abrupt changes in mood or attitude.
- Frequent complaints of not feeling well.
- Poor relationships with co-workers.
- Uncharacteristic errors in judgment, poor concentration.
- Unusual flare-ups of temper.
- Deterioration of personal appearance and hygiene.
- Repeated or unusual accidents.
- Deteriorating job performance.
- Borrowing money from co-workers or frequently requesting advances on paychecks.
- Using a company credit card for personal business.
TREATMENT IS GOOD BUSINESS
- Treatment can be successful in helping people with even the most serious addiction problems.
- After treatment, recovering addicts are less likely to be involved in crime and more likely to be employed.
- Helping people stay off drugs lightens everyone’s tax burden by reducing expenses for drug-related law enforcement and health services.
- Replacing employees is very expensive. Some estimates are more than $7,000 for a salaried worker, more than $10,000 for a mid-level employee, and more than $40,000 for a senior executive.
(Adapted from How Drug Abuse Takes Profit Out of Business, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse.)
TAKE A STAND!
- Examine your own alcohol and drug consumption habits. Are they hurting you, your family, or your co-workers? If you have a problem, get help.
- Help establish a policy against drug use in your workplace, with firm consequences for violations. Include management training, employee education, and, if appropriate, drug testing.
- If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), make sure people know about it. If no EAP exists to direct people to treatment services, help develop one.
- Work with the security office, union, or employee association to set up an anonymous hotline for reporting drug trafficking on the job.
American Council on Alcoholism
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Drug-Free Workplace Helpline
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline