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WESTPORT, Conn. – According to the 2002 Occupational Safety and Health Administration Fact Sheet, some two million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year. Since workplace violence, which is defined as any act that intimidates, scares or harms an employee, will not simply disappear, LifeCare, an employee benefits organization, has renewed its efforts to help employers and employees nationwide recognize warning signs of violence. LifeCare has made two publications available free to employers Preventing Workplace Violence-An Employer’s Guide and Preventing Workplace Violence-An Employee’s Guide. “Unlike other forms of violence, workplace violence is often preventable since there are typically a number of ways to identify and protect at-risk employees,” said Peter G. Burki, co-founder/CEO of LifeCare. “Education and training are the most crucial elements in recognizing the warning signs and responding before an incident occurs.” Burki offers these tips to employers: * Establish and distribute security, safety and emergency policies to employees on a regular basis, and provide related training. * Conduct pre-employment background and reference checks. * Be aware of employees who are experiencing high levels of stress or emotional difficulties-traits that can trigger violent behavior. * Institute and/or promote benefits programs designed to help employees manage their stress and balance their personal and professional lives. * Provide post-trauma counseling and stress debriefing sessions after any violent incidents. For employees Burki suggests the following: * Learn about your employer’s workplace safety policies, and abide by the rules. * Take notice of any changes in an employee’s work ethic, personality, behavior, possibly upsetting situation in his life or newly acquired poor personal hygiene habits, and report any suspicions to a supervisor immediately. * If you suspect a co-worker is in an abusive relationship, take the situation seriously- often employees are targeted at the workplace by violent partners. * Avoid potential “danger zones” in the workplace such as isolated or poorly lit areas, which can be conducive to crime. * Investigate safety and self-defense programs offered in your community. “With the increasing number of violent incidents taking place in the world today, it’s unfortunate but necessary that we help employers take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their employees,” said Burki.

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