Is your workplace violence response plan to an active assailant something of concern to you? You no longer read or hear frequent news reports about the “Going Postal” threat anymore. The Postal Service recognized it needed to take preventive measures.
Could it be that initiative-taking measures were taken and continued today to manage the threat? What is your organization’s mindset relative to the active assailant threat? Is the active assailant taken for granted as someone not employed at your workplace or school and incapable of such violence? Is your school relying on technology and the presence of school resource officers to be your school’s first line of prevention measures? Today as more incidents of disgruntled persons hit the news waves are you questioning or doubting your readiness? If you are, that is a commendable reaction. The next question is – what will you do about it?
Has Covid-19 confused the thinking in how to classify the workplace security threat because of remote work or work from home scenarios? Perhaps you can keep the continuity in perspective by adding workforce protection and modifying policy, plans and procedures? We don’t need to get too complicated but, we have to be realistic and practical.
It seems that every time you turn the news on there’s a report of a workplace shooting, mall shooting, parking lot shooting or school or college shooting all that seem to strike a sense of fear. But workplaces need not fear when there’s an investment in worker safety and security based on a management commitment that shares both a legal and moral sense of duty and responsibility. A prepared workplace can withstand the public outcry and legal scrutiny better than one that relies on Myths or Concerns out of fear of arousing employee concerns.
Workplaces and Employees don’t have to wait for the day when they hear gun shots or screams of a knife or machete wielding person running amok in their workplaces to begin taking robust, agile and proactive™ prevention and violence response measures.
Prepare NOW for the WHEN and not for the IF IT HAPPENS worst case scenario through proactive, responsive, engaging practical (PREP violence prevention and violence response policy, plans and procedures. When we hear about incidents of workplace violence, it often seems like something that never could happen in our workplaces, until it does. Will we be prepared? Just because it has not happened at your workplace does not mean you should expose your workforce to unnecessary risk or your workplace unnecessary liability.
When speaking of the workplace, we refer to every work environment your workforce might be performing their assigned duties. So that means, considering the risks your workforce might be exposed to as a field inspector, sales personnel, repair and utility personnel, medical services providers, social workers, truck drivers, taxi services and security personnel. Workplace violence prevention means addressing the potential risks the workforce might be exposed to wherever they might be.
When you go to the doctor for your annual physical examination you trust that your doctor knows what he’s doing and asks you the right questions. You do not challenge or question her diagnosis and recommendations though you should. So when was the last time you had a workplace physical (security) examination; a security assessment to assess and evaluate your workplace violence prevention, violence response measures and security posture? As a trusted advisor, your concerns are my priorities. As one healthcare facility manager Client once said, “Felix, thank you for pointing us in the right direction. Your recommendations following your assessment have taken us in a direction we needed to go”.
If you say you have never had a security assessment, you might have an existing vulnerability or security gap that a disgruntled person might exploit. You might be investing in a thoughtful strategy that could be redirected to achieve greater benefit. Do not let fear direct your ways. Just know that as an organization there are protective measures you can plan for that include plans and procedures in immediate protective measures and safe harbor rooms. If you have not had the physical security examination you probably don’t know that you can’t alert your employees, communicate with your employees or know anything about the police response and police encounter.
Preparation is key. That’s why I have coined a key word called: PREP (Prepared, Responsive, Engaged and Practical) as the foundation of a credible workplace violence prevention and violence response plan.
Here are 5 Things I recommend you should do TODAY. If you want to increase your workplace security posture against a threat of routine incidents of workplace violence or homicidal violence, do the following immediately:
- Dispel the myths. Do not say it will never happen here. Do not say we do not have a problem with workplace violence. Remember, it is the problem that you do not know about that can escalate right under your eyes.
- Conduct a Workplace Violence Prevention Critical Vulnerability Assessment ™ of your Workplace Violence Prevention posture. (Includes review of the policy, plans, procedures, and protocols)
- Conduct a Violence Response Assessment/Audit. (Includes review of the physical security layout to identify gaps in the security posture, alert, notification and communication system, potential safe harbor rooms and evacuation routes.)
- Roll out Violence Response and Safe Harbor Room Procedures and Guidelines. (Includes immediate protective measures, identification of safe harbor room, organizational responsibilities, safe harbor room configuration, alert, notification and communications instructions, role of security forces, police response and police encounter.)
- Train the entire workforce on the Violence Response and Safe Harbor Room Procedures and Guidelines. This type of training should be facilitator led. If logistic concerns challenges facilitator led training, every effort must be made to have a subject matter expertise can answer employee questions and address their concerns.
But please do not worry because if you have gotten down this far in the post you definitely care and are concerned. You have been proactive and were seeking to know what more you could do. Well, because you have been proactive your Workplace Violence Prevention Critical Vulnerability Assessment ™ should have identified vulnerability gaps and identified ways to improve your overall workplace violence prevention and security awareness posture, even your business continuity and continuation of operations plans.
About the Author: Felix P. Nater, CSC the President/Owner Nater Associates, Ltd. a security management consulting practice coaching and consulting organizations on workplace security strategy with a focus on workplace violence prevention is a Certified Security Consultant (CSC) as awarded by the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC). Nater Associates, Ltd. celebrated 20 years as a security management consultant. He prides himself on understanding and interpreting the issues around the threat of workplace violence, workplace violence prevention and violence response in the delivery of his services. His motto continues to be “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”