Include language in your company’s workplace violence and harassment policy that expressly bars workers—and visitors—from bringing weapons to work and from possessing and using weapons in your workplace. The policy should also include a broad definition of “weapon” that covers items such as knives, hand guns, stun guns, rifles, box cutters and police-type batons. And make sure to post signs at entrances to the workplace as well as inside stating that weapons are banned.
Banning weapons won’t eliminate the risk of workplace violence, of course. Workers who intend to commit premeditated acts of violence are unlikely to be deterred by a rule saying they can’t bring weapons to the workplace. But a weapons ban can help minimize the harm posed by spontaneous attacks and prevent angry confrontations from escalating into deadly encounters. Workers who lose their temper at work don’t need a weapon to commit an act of violence. For example, an irate worker could still punch his supervisor or even use an everyday object, such as a wrench, stapler or even a chair, as a make-shift weapon. However, such incidents would be much worse if the attacker had brought a “real” weapon to work.