Whether you are a supervisor, production manager, operations manager, HR manager, facility manager, safety manager, security manager or CEO your understanding of what constitutes workplace violence is crucial. The lack of understanding can contribute to a misplaced focus.
Are you thinking that workplace violence is about the employee who threatens or conducts gun violence? What about the employee who is the victim of harassment, verbal abuse, bullying, dictatorial supervision or some other aggressive behavior that intimidates an employee? What about the employee who is the victim of shoving, pushing, kicking and jostling? Equally important are you of the opinion that workplace violence cannot be prevented?
The understandable focus on gun violence by management seems to overshadow employee concerns and expectations associated with every day psychological value. The 2023 Work in America Survey sheds light on the critical role workplaces play in psychological health and well-being. https://www.apa.org/pubs/reports/work-in-america/2023-workplace-health-well-being
OSHA Federal reports an average of 2 million reported incidents a year involving fights, threats, harassment, name calling, verbal abuse and sabotage. Should the data be an indicator of concern? What about your workplace violence prevention training and reporting? Are they credible? Perception is often reality. Would you feel comfortable representing your role during an OSHA Inspection or as a witness in a civil liability lawsuit? You may be surprised to discover that a company or employee that does the right thing without the right policy in place can become liable in lawsuits filed by other employees or even the perpetrator.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are a small, medium or large business or organization you should have a WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION POLICY AND PLAN supported by quality training”. The training must address what employees must do, why and how. Every Organization Needs to Address Workplace Violence so that employees can describe it and report it.
The plan at a minimum must explain the prohibited behaviors, reporting, accountabilities, responsibilities, consequences, protocols, and procedures. Small and midsize businesses must not dismiss the importance of having their plans thinking they are immune from workplace violence or not subject to an Unannounced OSHA Inspection. The risks are higher when it comes to recovery and business continuity from a workplace shooting incident, but other forms of workplace violence are toxic to productivity and teamwork.
HR Managers, facility and safety professionals at every workplace should develop a policy on violence prevention that includes:
- Employee training and creating an emergency action plan.
- Conducting simulation training exercises.
- Engaging in interactive discussions.
- Adopting and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence
- Deploying safety technologies in reducing workplace violence.
WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION should be comprehensive organizational initiative but not complicated based on the type of organization. Here are 10 practical workplace violence prevention tips that will energize your workplace prevention efforts.
- Review and update the Workplace Violence Prevention and Harassment Polices annually.
- Train supervisors in their role to evaluate, assess and document employee reports.
- Review the incidents in a timely manner to identify patterns, repeat offenders and gaps in the policy.
- Train employees in workplace violence prevention.
- Inform employees that hasty reporting activates the organization’s workplace violence prevention protocols and procedures more efficiently.
- Review visitor management and access control policy and procedures for vulnerabilities.
- Review the domestic violence/intimate partner policy to ensure employees are familiar with the policy, services & resources available.
- Train supervisors & managers on the leader’s role in maintaining safe workplaces.
- Test your emergency evacuation plan and hostile intruder/active shooter threat procedures.
- Conduct on site work-site specific assessments of employee work settings and operations.
Remember, Compliance is a good thing, but it is not prevention. Crisis Management is not prevention. Threat Assessment supports prevention. Think of Workplace Violence Prevention as your workplace security insurance blanket.
The workplace violence prevention mission can be a shared responsibility. Create a robust, agile, and proactive (RAP) process in managing aggression and at-risk situations. Integration and collaboration of limited resources can maximize effort.
About: Felix Nater, CSC Security Management Consultant helping organizations avoid mistakes that lead to workplace violence by implementing and managing workplace security strategy with a focus on workplace violence prevention. Felix is a recent published co-author of Combating Workplace Violence: Creating and Maintaining Safe Work Environments http://bit.ly/3odv3NA His website is https://www.naterassociates.com