Workplace violence can happen anywhere at any time. It can involve a single victim, such as the apartment manager stabbed to death in Cleveland, Ohio in July 2010, or multiple victims as in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School when Adam Lanza (gunman) shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults in December 2012.
Nationally, non-fatal acts of violence in the workplace are numerous. In 2013, approximately 572,000 non-fatal violent crimes (rape/sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault) occurred against workers, according to data from the National Crime Victimization Survey.
News media accounts of shootings, assaults, and other acts of violence at the workplace have heightened awareness of this problem. Workers in some industries, such as health care or retail establishments, are more likely than others to experience violence on the job. For that reason, Ohio has laws that require workplace violence prevention programs in health care settings, psychiatric hospitals and late night retail establishments, like convenience stores. If we’re to be proactive against this type of risk, every business should consider establishing a workplace violence prevention plan.
What Can We Do?
Such a plan does not have to be complicated, time consuming or expensive. Ask yourself, “What kind of workplace violence could happen at my work?” Then use this guide and the tips included to plan ways to reduce the possibility of violence at work.
- A (JHA) “Job Hazard Analysis” must be performed by a competent person to ensure that the plan is appropriate for the location.
- D.A.R.T. Training (De-Escalation and Response Training) to educate all employees about workplace violence.
- A procedure for reporting workplace violence.
- Ways of preventing or diffusing volatile situations or aggressive behavior.
- Communication Skills Training.
- Mediation and conflict resolution.
- Stress management.
- Employee relations training.
- Building & Employee Security procedures.
- Personal security measures & “Active Shooter Training.”
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) – which includes counseling for mental health, drug & alcohol issues, and protection for domestic violence victims.
It is not enough to just have an Anti-Violence policy on the wall and an employee manual on the shelf that allegedly addresses the problem. A well-defined program starts with a firm policy statement from the company clearly stipulating how it promotes its safe work environment. This statement is backed up by a commitment from senior management and provides detail about:
- The prohibition of violence, threats, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior.
- An affirmation that ALL incidents will be investigated.
- The importance of employee involvement and does not minimize their importance in reporting.
- Adding “Active Shooter Drills” into your “Emergency Action Plan.”
- Evaluation and planning with your local Police Department.
Training is the Key.
Violence prevention awareness needs to be an integral part of new employee orientation as well as giving refresher classes on an annual basis to all employees of the company. However, concentrated training should be given to the managers and first line supervisors. These people are the eyes and ears of every organization. They see every person within their area of responsibility every single day and are more likely than anyone else to observe a potentially violent situation in its earliest stages.
For more information about the D.A.R.T. Program and/or to have an “Active Shooter Drill” provided at your location, contact us at 740-725-6325.
Kyle E. Weygandt is a licensed safety professional, educator, active police officer and an AEC Safety Partner. Kyle’s expertise has impacted employers to apply proactive concepts in their work environment which results in greater workplace relationships.