Pharmacy U

9 key steps you’ll want to know to ensure a violence-free pharmacy


Every pharmacy – whether a small independent or large chain outlet – should have a violence-in-the-workplace policy to safeguard employees. The policy should clearly outline how to prevent violence in the first place; diffuse situations before they escalate; and outline what to do if violence or a serious threat occurs.

By Derek Tweel, director of operations for Murphy’s Pharmacies in PEI.

We overhauled our policy and procedures to ensure they are clear, effective, and actually put to use. Here are some tips based on our experience:

Do your homework. Find out about the occupational health and safety regulations for violence in the workplace in your province. Then search online for good examples of workplace policies.

Always incorporate safety. If you are building or renovating a space, always factor employee safety in your design. Have two exit doors, for example, for every consulting room or dispensary area. Provide adequate light at back doors and in parking areas.

Define violence.  Make clear what you will not tolerate as language or behaviour, including threats. Post this information where everyone can see it.

Involve employees. Ask them to share any concerns as well as suggestions for improving safety.

Evaluate risks. Based on feedback, assess the specific risks to pharmacists, technicians, cashiers, sales staff and delivery people at your particular location. Take measures to minimize each risk.

Keep checklists. Have management verify all security measures on a regular basis, such as whether the surveillance equipment is working properly, and outdoor lighting is switched on promptly at dusk.

Emphasize prevention. Minimize shoplifting by providing attentive customer service. Employees should know how to take an irate customer aside to calmly attempt to resolve the situation.

Detail procedures. We provide our employees with information to help them recognize a potentially violent person so that steps can be taken to avoid the incident from recurring.

Keep everyone informed. All our employees are required to sign a document that says they have read and understood our policy and procedures. This is not something you can do once and forget about. The safety of patients, customers and employees must be kept top of mind.