Protecting Employees from Robbery and Assault

Each year, nearly two million American workers report that they have been victims of some form of workplace violence, including robbery and assault crimes. This is according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There are several factors that may increase the risk of violence for workers in a variety of occupations. These factors include:

  • Exchanging money with the public
  • Working where alcohol is served
  • Working late at night
  • Working in known high-crime areas
  • Working with volatile, unstable people
  • Working alone or in isolated areas

Protecting Employees Against Violence

In most workplaces where risk factors can be identified, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized if employers take appropriate precautions. One of the best protections employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence.

Start by assessing the risk of violence against employees. Gather information about previous or potential violent crimes. Then, analyze your current violence prevention measures. Ask for input from employees about current problems, concerns, and possible solutions. Prepare and implement a workplace violence prevention program that includes physical controls, procedural controls and training; this is a necessary step to reducing or eliminating assaults while on the job.

In a retail setting, consider the following:

  • Physical controls will likely be a combination of careful store design to allow clear sightlines both inside and outside the store, barriers such as wider counters or plexiglas partitions to separate employees from customers, good lighting, and video surveillance.
  • Procedural controls will include employee training, safe work procedures and scheduling. There should be written procedures for working alone and for high-risk situations such as store opening, closing and cashing out at the end of the day.

Protecting Employees Against Robbery

By definition, robbery refers to someone stealing something using force with the threat of violence. Robberies typically present the greatest risk of violence to retail workers and customers. Therefore, in addition to the recommendations above, there are additional precautions you should take to help make your business a difficult target for criminals.

  1. Keep the store clean, organized and always well lit.
  2. Be friendly, make eye contact, stay alert and watch for customers who act strangely.
  3. Encourage the police to stop by periodically.
  4. Keep the amount of cash in the registers or a safe to a minimum.

Employee Training & Crime Prevention

For more tips from a former Chicago Police Department robbery detective: Is Your Business a Target? Robbery Prevention Tips.

Remember that criminals are always looking for ways to beat crime prevention systems, but they are only willing to go so far. You can lower your chances of being robbed or being involved in a violent incident by remembering one simple rule: the greater the risk of getting caught, the lower the likelihood that someone will commit the offense. Implementing these robbery and assault prevention recommendations will help protect employees and customers from criminals who are willing to do them harm.

Keep in mind that although OSHA has not issued any formal standards on workplace violence at this time, they have issued general guidelines and recommendations to employers on workplace violence prevention. OSHA can issue citations to employers for violations of the General Duty Clause, Section 5 (a)(1) which is interpreted by courts to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace free from conditions and hazards that will cause or is likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees when there is a feasible method to abate the hazard.

Download this whitepaper: Crime Prevention for Restaurants and Bars for more helpful hints and a crime prevention checklist that you can put to use in your business.

To learn more about how Society can help protect your business, contact your local Society Insurance agent.

-Mike Dilley


Mike earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Safety Management from the University of Central Missouri. Over the past 30 years he has held various positions in Risk Control and Safety, Claims Adjusting and Agency and Sales Management with a variety of companies within the insurance industry. Mike has been with Society for almost two years as the Risk Control Representative responsible for Central and Southern Indiana.

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