Workplace Violence: Planning and Response
At the 2018 PRIMA Annual Conference, Regan Rychetsky, President and CEO of Insight Workplace Solutions, LLC, discussed workplace violence.
All employers should establish a policy and protocols addressing workplace violence including domestic violence. The domestic violence piece is often overlooked and is one of the most common sources for workplace violence. Employers should establish a reporting process and track incidents and all employees need to be trained. You should also establish a threat response team. Identifying threats of workplace violence needs to become part of your culture.
Elements in a workplace violence policy:
- Policy statement
- Domestic violence
- Threats of harm to self
- Warning signs
- Work rules
- Disciplinary action
Establish a reporting process:
- ALL incidents reported
- Security incident report form
- Determine procedures and process flow
- Determine repository
- Trend analysis
It is important to be consistent in how your policy is enforced. Any threats should be taken seriously. The threat you ignore could turn into a serious situation and then you have potential liability exposure for not taking action.
Your threat assessment team needs to be people very familiar with the policy and the issues at hand. Should include risk management, Human Resources, legal, and possibly operations. The focus of this groups is evaluating any threats made. The assessment has to happen quickly as soon as possible after there is knowledge of the threat.
If an employee is making threats to co-workers you should consider putting them on leave pending an investigation. Err on the side of caution with this. Not taking immediate action sends the wrong message to your employees.
Many employers have zero tolerance policies when it comes to workplace violence including making threats. Just making threats is enough to terminate an employee under such policies.
The best indicators of future violence are threats and a history of violence. You should trust your gut instincts. If a situation feels bad it probably is bad. Behavior that scares your employees should scare you.
Any employees that make home visits can be in potentially very dangerous situations. This not only includes first responders, but also social service workers and utility workers. People often respond violently in a child custody situation or when their utilities are being cut off due to non payment.
Signs of a very serious threat:
- Behavior indicates intent, planning or preparation.
- Names of potential victims.
- Access to potential victims.
- Statement commitment.
- Access to weapons.
- Sense of justification by the person (their motivation)
- Willingness to suffer consequences.
If you look at mass shootings you will find most of these characteristics present.
When you have a threat of workplace violence there should be an immediate response (such as calling 911 if necessary) Gather information about the threat then your threat assessment team should review the situation to decide on the appropriate response. There could be a short term response (such as advising employees to watch out for this person) or a long term response (such as banning a person permanently from your workplace).