In this RIMS 2015 session, Bo Mitchell, President at 911 Consulting addressed how to define and identify workplace violence and how to prepare for it if it occurs.
Daily workplace violence (WPV) is occurring every day. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice reports 2 million instances every year at U.S. employers, which is a likely underreported number. This does not only include active shooter, but rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults – both verbal and physical, sabotage and workplace bullying. It also includes intimate partner violence and stalking from the significant other of an employee.
Separate the Facts from the Myths
Most think WPV can’t happen to them or that it can not be anticipated. These are all myths. It occurs all the time, however, these instances can and should be prevented.
Know the warning signs. Aggressive and threatening behavior is usually an early indicator even at a low level. Rather than ignoring these signs; early intervention is key.
Establish a Plan and Train
The biggest threat is denial. Employers, legally and morally, have a duty to care and protect their employees at work. The most effective way to do that is to plan and train regularly.
- Early recognition and intervention is key. Take all warning signs seriously and act on them.
- Establish security and access control, which includes notifying employees immediately when their co-workers have been fired so they know that access is denied for that individual.
- Policies, protocols and appropriate behavior must be defined, documented and distributed to your employees.
- Establish conflict resolution protocols and engage them at first sign of aggressive behavior.
- Enact the “see something, say something” rule. You need an established reporting ethic and culture.
- Training is the most important element. Include items like which route to run, where to hide, and how to fight if they have to. Generalities are dangerous. This must be specific to your facilities(s). In addition, first responders aren’t the first responders. A WPV is often over in 8 minutes. Your employees have to be trained to be the first responders.
- Establish and follow a zero tolerance policy. This means acting on low-level as well as high-level threats and aggressive behavior.