At the 2016 Lockton Complex Risk Symposium, Denise Balan from XL Catlin and Heyrick Bond Gunning from S-RM discussed workplace violence and how risk managers in reducing the incidences of this.
OSHA defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. Homicide is the 4th leading cause of death in the workplace and the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. There were over 700 deaths due to workplace violence last year.
Categories of workplace violence include:
- customers clients and patients
- employees or supervisors
- domestic partners or relatives of the employee
OSHA rules indicates an employer has a “duty of care” to protect employees from workplace hazards. OSHA can use this “duty of care” to issues citations in the absence of regulations. From the workplace violence perspective, it is important for employers to have a written policy in place to deal with threats of workplace violence and how to respond if there is an incident in the workplace.
In terms of predictive modeling, there were social media predictors for about 20% of the workplace violence incidents. These included explicit threats posted on Facebook or Twitter.
Some issues that can lead to workplace violence include:
- Intense workloads
- Restructuring, layoffs
- Ignoring warning signs
- Chronic verbal abuse
- Allowing co-worker feuds to go unaddressed
Early warning signs include:
- Someone who argues frequently with co-workers
- Person who refuses to cooperate with their supervisor
- Demonstrates tendency to be short-tempered
- Yelling on the phone or behind closed doors
- History of drug or alcohol abuse
- Makes inappropriate or unwanted sexual advances
A heightened warning signs include:
- Argues increasingly with customers, vendors, co-workers
- Stops obeying basic company policies and rules
- Sabotages equipment or steals property for revenge
- Vague threats
Immediate threat warning signs include:
- Repeated threats of suicide
- Repeated threats to co-workers
- Repeated fights with co-workers
- Showing weapons or referring to having them
- Talks openly about hurting co-workers
A crisis management plan must be flexible and allow for quick, decisive action. Advance preparation include knowing escape routes, practicing lockdown procedures, knowing how to react to sounds of gunfire and knowing how to contact first responders. You should have employee training around responding to workplace violence to ensure you are meeting the “duty of care” both to satisfy OSHA requirements and to mitigate potential civil liability exposures.
There are some specific insurance products available to address workplace violence. This includes Workplace Violence specific policies, and endorsements or enhancements to kidnap, ransom & extortion policies. Consultant networks can provide assistance in public relations and special security advisors.