11 Strategies to encourage reporting of sexual assaults among my staff

Imaging being sexually assaulted during work hours and feeling alone even if there´s a room full of other healthcare professionals and managers. Unfortunately, this situation occurs quite often by employees that lack an internal safety culture that supports the reporting process. Therefore, the question that arises is how to encourage reporting workplace violence among my staff? How to shift the mindset so that they don't feel afraid to speak up? What strategies can I take? Where do I start? This blog explores all possible answers to these questions. 

therapy for workers healtcare


Is creating a safety culture the answer? 

Yes. The key is to ensure that the internal culture supports reporting. Employees need to be confident that their reports will be taken into account and will be handled. If employees don't feel comfortable with their manager, there should be someone in HR or higher to address their concerns. What needs to be avoided is a process of not addressing the issues and preventing a process of office gossip.

TIP: It's a great idea to include the possible scenarios that employees might want to report and explain during their training.

Three key action levels 

The recommendations are to go for strategiesthat face the challenges of creating a safety culture and encourages the reporting of sexual assaults or any type of violence at work. 

The first component of the strategy is promoting a culture of zero tolerance towards workplace violence. Understanding the three levels of prevention helps us focus on specific  standards and skills needed to be developed in order to prevent workplace violence: 

  • Primary Prevention. Stop violence before it occurs. Identify risks and vulnerabilities, this presentation explores the steps you should take to mitigate workplace sexual harrasment 
  • Secondary Prevention. Immediate response to violence, there should be an efficient emergency response. 
  • Tertiary Prevention. Long-term responses to violence, efficient responses after the incident happens. 
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After acknowledging the three levels of prevention, it is time to take action. Here are 11 strategies to implement for employers and employees to promote a safety culture in the workplace:

Strategies for employers

Primary Prevention

  1. Supportive environment, active listening to your employees aligned with OSHA´s 2015 guidelines.
  2. Background checks on new employees. Workplace safety begins with hiring. 
  3. Create a policy that prevents harassment. Include each level of the facility (managers, employees, executives, externals). Communicate the policy across your organization and make sure employees understand them correctly. 
  4. Identify organizational risk factors that could lead to violence. Assess your facilities operation and factors that could become hazards. Are there areas that are understaffed? Is there inadequate security? Is violence currently tolerated? What's the perception towards it?

 Secondary Prevention

5. Data collection and analysis for generating insights that help improve the programs and policies. Active listening and networking.
6. Create an effective line of communication. Provide an open line of communication to managers, HR and key members in your organization. Give employees resources that allow them to know they will be heard and responded to. 
7. Manage visitors by providing security monitoring. Promote patrolling in your facility and parking lot, video surveillance, visitor check-in desk, all the extra layers of security


Tertiary Prevention

8. Evaluation and improvement of the program. Incident investigation, active listening, counseling and conduction of a root cause following an incident.

Strategies for employees

Primary Prevention

9. Active participation in the prevention program and policies as well as allowing constant feedback.

Secondary Prevention

10. Active participation in the implementation of workplace violence programs and proper feedback regarding the weaknesses of the program. 

Tertiary Prevention

11. Debriefing, feedback and active participation in counseling programs that express empathy after an incident happens.



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