Mask wearing, social distancing, and other CDC guidelines make doing normal things like eating out and shopping different now compared to earlier this year. You may have seen an instance of a customer refusing to follow safety rules at a grocery store or restaurant since the coronavirus pandemic began. Some outbursts are loud, but some have even led to employee injuries.
Following viral posts of people angrily not following rules, the CDC recently released guidelines to limit workplace violence associated with COVID-19. They define workplace violence as “violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty.” Customers, other employees, or employers could do any of these.
Threats can mean verbal, written, and physical expressions of harm. That can turn into yelling, swearing, insulting, and other verbal remarks meant to initiate emotions. Physical violence, or hitting, slapping, pushing, grabbing, and more, are used to inflict injury or harm, according to the CDC.
Part of the conflict resolution in the new guidelines includes remaining calm and making non-threatening eye contact. It also says there should be no pointing or having the arms crossed. Space between the employee and the person acting out should be created. But the CDC recommends training employees to spot a potential instance first. Behavior like clenching fists, heavy breathing, swearing, and speaking loudly are signs.
One way employers at restaurants and grocery stores can help to prevent tense or violent situations from happening is to limit or control the amount of contact between employees and customers. This can be done by enforcing social distancing by offering curbside pickup, delivery, and creating special shopping hours. Signs should be clearly visible and show the business’ rules for customers and employees to see. These rules should also be on the company’s website. Teams are helpful, the CDC says. Also, security systems like panic buttons, cameras, and alarms should be in place should any situation go awry.
Following these CDC guidelines can turn a potentially serious situation into a harmless one. One example of an employee taking the steps to keep other customers and employees safe took place inside a Starbucks location in San Diego, California. A GoFundMe page was set up for the barista after he refused to serve a customer without a mask on. Over $100,000 was raised.
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