|Employers for Violence
|Workplace Violence 101
Taskforce responsible for security assessment,
policy and program development and threat response. Members can consist of a variety of
professionals including Human Resources, Legal Counsel, upper Management, Security, EAP,
front line supervisors and employees and outside community resources. Ideally, this
group will meet at least semi-annually to review prior incidents and re-assess risk
The team may also seek input and advise from law enforcement, mental
health, victim advocacy agencies, legal and security consultant professionals.
A lead coordinator will ensure tasks and responsibilities are delegated
and completed. They also can act as the central contact and maintain records of meetings,
assessments, reports and investigation procedures. An emergency contact system
should be established to ensure that members can be reached at any time.
Training is necessary to ensure knowledge and ability to assess threats
and expedite security implementation.
A general assessment of organizational vulnerabilities should be conducted on
a regular basis. Components include:
Incident Audit: Review records to determine frequency and extent of previous
incidents including Workers Compensation, Disciplinary records, OSHA reports, security
reports and other pertinent documents.
Procedural Assessment: Review hi-risk work procedures such as cash handling,
working alone, working at night, entry and egress vulnerabilities; employee ID protocol
and other issues.
Facility Assessment: Review physical layout and security devices. Lighting,
barriers, CCTV, entry control and security personnel are some components of the procedures
of Crime Prevention through Environmental Development.
Employee Survey: Confidential survey of employee concerns, unreported incidents and
most importantly, assessment of what employees would do if confronted with an issue or
Personnel Policy must be comprehensive to include various types of workplace
threats including intimate relations, clients and strangers along with co-worker
issues. A good policy provides support and protections along with prohibited actions
and sanctions. Include an anti-retaliation clause to encourage reporting, prohibit
weapons and clearly states the mission to prevent violence in the workplace.
Contact Peace at Work for support for your policy.
Hiring Practices: Dependant on the
position and responsibilities, conduct a criminal background check, in-depth job
references and civil court records. Interview questions focus on inter-personal
relationship skills and conflict management.
Termination Protocol: Ensure Respect and Dignity in all procedures
for individual terminations and group lay-offs. Protect access to facility and information
Regular and documented training should occur for all staff. Understanding of
workplace violence principals, organizational policies, identification of warning signs,
proper response and de-escalation of hostile behavior should be provided to frontline
staff while supervisors and management can receive additional training on threat management
and security implementation. The Threat Management Team should
training on risk analysis and legal considerations. Case study review will
familiarize members with team members perspectives and values.
Develop forms and chain or reporting so that warnings and threats are quickly
passed on to the Threat Management Team. Forms should be readily available to all
employees. Forms and investigation documents need to be carefully recorded and
maintained. Employees should have multiple options to report concerns. Training should
include common obstacles to reporting concerns such as fear of retaliation and creating
problems for fellow co-workers.
A database of reports should be kept to easily generate regular
indicating hi-risk areas and organizational vulnerabilities.
|This refers to a
threat assessment of a specific threat or issue, not about general workplace
It may be the team coordinator who first gathers
the facts and determines if the whole team needs to be notified and convened.
Gather together a knowledgeable and capable team to determine the severity
of the threat. If the threat warrants, do not schedule a meeting; get together now via
phone if necessary.
Contact local law enforcement. Consider other community resources
such as mental health, victim advocates and security consultants.
Investigate the subject's previous criminal background
with particular relevance to violent or inter-personal crimes. The local courthouse
can provide records for that district but services are available for statewide and
national data. Note, however, these background checks often do not indicate if a
person has been previously charged but was not convicted of the crime.
Determine if there were any protection or restraining orders placed
against the individual. Also, determine if the person has a concealed weapons
Consider how a mental health evaluation can be
conducted. Employees may be referred to an Employee Assistance Program and then
possibly for a psychiatric evaluation led by a professional with experience in violence
Consider the level of stability in their lives: Are they going through a
divorce or separation; personal bankruptcy; mental health or substance abuse issues and/or
other life changes. Are they at the end of their rope?
Violent incidents often occur around significant dates: before or after
court trials with issues such as restraining orders, custody hearings, divorce,
grievance hearings and workers compensation claims. Also consider the anniversaries of
certain events such as losing a job or marriages.
While there are cases of assailants coming back years later, most
incidents occur soon after a negative job action or after a victim leaves an abuser.
Determine the incident or issue that first raised the
concern. What happened to cause the investigation? Obtain reports from
as many witnesses as possible. Collect evidence such as threatening messages or
The incident is the cause of the investigation and is the reason for any
disciplinary action. However, the goal of the investigation is to determine the
potential threat. The incident or precipitating action may be minor but reveal a
serious threat. Conversely, a serious transgression, such as bringing a gun to work, may
have a low level of actual threat.
Of particular importance is if they had made a threat. Often, veiled or
even ambiguous threats are made to potential targets. However, more direct statements are
made to co-workers, friends and acquaintances. Any reference to a clear,
detailed, laid-out plan is a serious red flag.
While there is controversy over the value of "a
profile", there are some characteristics that may warrant concern. No
characteristic is definitive sign of danger; they are only factors in the bigger picture.
However, certain personality traits have been noted in previous incidents.
Someone who blames everyone else. It is never their fault; they place
responsibility for their situation on others, often bitterly.
Fascination with weapons and violence. As the majority of violent
incidents involved firearms, a suspect's familiarity and possession of one is key
In domestic violence cases, abusers who demonstrate a deep sense of
ownership of the victim are particularly dangerous. Frequent law enforcement
contact, injuring or killing the victim's pets and kidnapping incidents are common
pre-indicators to homicide.
Once a threat has been identified, it is never completely
annulled. Through out the investigation, the risk and vulnerabilities must be constantly
assessed to maintain safety.
A suspect's situation may change quickly and often, requiring the
consistent and dedicated attention from those responsible for security.
Once a specific threat has been resolved, it would be wise to periodically
review the suspect to determine if new concerns warrant further investigation.
|Develop a response
The most crucial aspect of a security plan is to detail what
should be done if the perpetrator comes to the workplace.
Be able to spot the suspect. A description of them and their vehicle (or
preferably a picture) can be distributed to those responsible for being on watch. Security
devices such as discreet warning buzzers and alarms can be invaluable in these situations
and follow a pre-determined plan which may include
Calling law enforcement
Notifying security, if available
Locking all entrances to the facility
Warning any identified targets
Allowing passage on a pre-determined escape route or to a safe location.
|Assess the work
Initially, a general assessment of the environmental
vulnerabilities can be made. This would not only help address the immediate threat but
improve the general safety of the workplace from all forms of threats.
This is also known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or
Aspects such as lighting surrounding the facility and in the parking lot,
accessibility to the buildings, bushes and trees around entrances that can hide an
offender and the use of surveillance equipment are all items to be considered.
Limit entry to facility, reduce accessibility and assess condition of
locks, doors and windows. Provided that easy egress is maintained at all portals, the only
entry would be at one door and only by screened visitors or employees.
Law enforcement can be indispensable in this step. Request for increased
patrols, especially at shift change and other identified key times.
Consult with your legal counsel.
Consider obtaining a workplace restraining order, if available in your
state. If there is domestic violence restraining order, request a copy which lists the
workplace as a restricted area.
Offer the target's a parking spot to a more secure location or at least
one that is closer to an entrance. Also provide security escort to and from their car.
In situations of extreme danger, protect the target and the workplace by
providing leave for period of time. Leave options can be considered and a truly supportive
management would provide the means to temporarily hide out, i.e. a providing a hotel room
in another location.
- Hire off-duty law enforcement for security
- Hire a security firm for professional assessment and security measures
- If the facility and business permits, keep the doors locked constantly, opened only to
The time length for these measures depends on investigation results.
Please note that
these points are meant to provide ideas and suggestions as to how to assess and respond to
a potential threat. Every situation is unique and requires a immediate, in-depth
investigation and proper utilization of resources to determine the safest response.
Get the right people on the job and give them the resources and authority to effectively
address the situation.