Workplace Violence Prevention – Proactive or Reactive

Posted on: November 16th, 2016

So what does workplace violence prevention mean to you?

Is your Workplace Violence Prevention Policy a living document? A policy that is part of a process that began with senior management understanding, commitment and investment, supported by plans, procedures and training?  Can it withstand an unannounced OSHA Inspection because the OSHA 4 categories of workplace violence prevention and guiding principles are the foundation of your policy? Your Workplace Violence Prevention Initiative should have the appreciation of the workforce in understanding your concerns about their safety and security. The policy does not belong on the SHELF.

The intent of this Blog is to encourage organizations to create an organizational culture that reinforces the OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention guidance in developing your own prevention and violence response philosophy. I think OSHA has been ahead of the game for years, it’s just that some of us worried about “other people’s statistics”and what others were doing instead of worrying about your own data and what you should have been doing at our own workplaces.

Management commitment & investment. One approach is a model that focuses on the value of integration & collaboration of resources as a work in progress. Accepting that violence in workplaces is preventable & manageable when leaders employ a multi-dimensional & multi-disciplinary approach that holds itself accountable. Be Proactive!

  • Prepare  for the “WHEN,” not the “IF”
  • Recognize the realities and take appropriate measures
  • Maximize the value of shared resources
  • Enforce & support existing plans
  • Adopt innovative proactive strategies
  • Conduct internal and external ongoing self-assessments & validations

Workplace Violence Prevention Starts with The Recognition of the Aggression Behaviors and Managing The Outcome…

Proactive workplace violence prevention takes place when senior management understands the commitment and the needed investment in supporting quality training, policy, plans and procedures that prepare employees to be a part of the prevention methodology and security technology in the protection of the workforce and stakeholders.

“Workplace Violence Prevention is not the publication of policies that are managed in silos but a collaborative effort that promotes quality prevention strategy and training that helps identifies aggression before it escalates to physical violence.”

So what if anything are you doing to protect your organizations against their new enforcement directive?

In the last 15 years, deaths resulting from workplace violence have ranked among the top four causes of occupational fatalities in American workplaces and remains in the top 5 areas of workplace security concerns.  In response to this serious threat to worker safety, OSHA released a new compliance and enforcement directives on Sept of 2011 that offers procedures for agency staff who respond to workplace violence cases or complaints. Caution is always recommended in assuming that compliance is prevention but it at least takes a leap forward in being proactive as a regulatory body.  If you don’t educate on the value of prevention, compliance merely becomes another checklist protecting the organization but doing very little for education and increased awareness.

“The Directive identifies several broad categories of workplaces that OSHA says are prone to workplace violence, including sites where employees work with the public or volatile, unstable people, sites where employees work alone or in isolated areas, sites where employees handle money or valuables, and sites at which employees provide services and care. The Directive goes on to describe other factors that can create the likelihood of workplace violence, such as working late at night or working in areas with high crime rates”.

Don’t wait or hesitate! Are you open to a different approach to workplace violence prevention? If you interested you may want to contact me.

4 Responses

  1. Good information Felix! I resonate with the philosophy to policy of be prepared for when?…not what if.

    • Felix says:

      Thanks for always taking the time to offer your feedback Eileen, I appreciate you. To your point, an effective workplace violence prevention policy must have a prevention and violence response component based on the philosophy of robust, agile and proactive intervention. Waiting for an incident to happen is not prevention at all. It is thinking that workplace violence can not happen a symptom of denial. In order for organizations to be minimally prepared to respond to a violent threat of violence there has to be a mindset of understanding. Understanding of the differences between WHEN it happens and not IF it happens. When is thinking about psychological preparedness. If is acting as though your workplace is immune from the threat of violence.

  2. Rodney Andreasen says:

    Felix: An excellent article and on point. Those that are charged with the prevention of workplace violence need to be visionaries and thinking outside the box. Plans should adapt and not be static on the shelve place holders, they need to be the living and breathing documents that need constant evaluation to meet, and more importantly, prevent the incident from happening.

    Excellent article

    • Felix says:

      Thank you Rodney, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. My concern is that because workplace violence prevention is more reactive there is little to none senior management visibility. If it was being managed as a program those charged with it might display a proactive involvement worthy of informing senior management of it’s success. But because it takes a back seat the lack of interest in prevention isn’t a focus.

      It isn’t a focus because those in charge have no formal program management or development experience or education in how to manage such an initiative it’s hard to have a vision and be creative. Thinking outside the box occurs when the program has resource allocation and those involved have been trained in aspects of workplace violence prevention. For example when I was first assigned to workplace violence prevention as a Postal Inspector we were trained in all aspects related to prevention.

      Corporate makes many assumptions based on resumes and culture. So because the specialty is under HR there’s assumptions those in charge know what they are doing and training isn’t necessary. It is difficult for those in charge to adapt without specific understanding of what to do and how.

      Security on the other hand is in a pickle because they treat workplace violence reactively based on their limited expertise on the topic. They bring a whole different set of skills suitable for the reactive role they project. It becomes static from day one from a lack clarity, vision, support and allocation of resources.

      It will never be a “living and breathing document” until senior management becomes aware of how it impacts their safety and financial bottom lines.

What are your thoughts?