After completing the initial workplace assessment for risk factors and developing a written policy, the next step is to develop a comprehensive written Violence Prevention Plan. One major component of any workplace violence prevention plan is, of course, prevention. This module will focus on important subjects which should be included in the plan:
An employer may choose to create a separate workplace violence prevention plan or incorporate this information into other company documents. This may include the company's accident prevention plan or an employee handbook.
One important element in the written violence prevention plan and usually the first question many people ask is, "How can we identify potentially violent individuals?" It is understandable that people want to know this -- and that "profiles" and "early warning signs" of potentially violent employees are in much of the literature on the subject of workplace violence. It would save time and solve problems if managers could figure out ahead of time what behaviors and personality traits are predictive of future violent actions.
However, no one can predict human behavior and it's important to state in the plan there is no specific profile of a potentially dangerous individual. It is seldom (if ever) advisable to rely on what are inappropriately referred to as "profiles" or "early warning signs" to predict violent behavior.
"Profiles" often suggest people with certain characteristics, such as "loners" and "men in their forties," are potentially violent. This kind of categorization will not help you to predict violence and it can lead to unfair and destructive stereotyping of employees.
The same can be said of reliance on "early warning signs" that include descriptions of problem situations such as "in therapy," "has had a death in the family," "suffers from mental illness," or "facing downsizing."
Each of the behaviors noted above is a clear sign something is wrong. None should be ignored. By identifying the problem and dealing with it appropriately, managers may be able to prevent violence from happening. The written plan appoints an appropriate staff member (or an incident response team) to assist supervisors and other employees in dealing with such situations. Some behaviors require immediate police or security involvement, others constitute actionable misconduct and require disciplinary action, and others indicate an immediate need for an Employee Assistance Program referral.
Everyone experiences stress, loss, or illness at some point in life. All but a very few people weather these storms without resorting to violence. The written plan should address training for managers on how to deal with the kinds of difficulties mentioned above. However, this training should focus on supporting the employee in the workplace and not in the context of, or on the potential for, workplace violence.
The written violence prevention plan should describe proactive methods and means to limit or reduce the potential for workplace violence. The plan should direct regular risk assessments of facilities and address areas where simple improvements can be made that would greatly increase the safety of employees and visitors. Once existing or potential hazards are identified through the hazard assessment, then hazard prevention and control measures can be identified and implemented. These measures may include (in order of general preference):
Redesigning, installing, substituting materials, equipment, machinery, workstations, etc. (things we use)in the workplace.
Administrative/Work Practice Controls
Developing safe/secure processes and procedures (things we do/don't do) in the workplace.
Personal Protective Equipment
Equipment we wear to protect us from harm.
Posting applicable laws, such as those prohibiting assaults and stalking, in visible locations may also serve as a prevention measure.
Consider using one or more of the following prevention measures that help design the workplace and develop procedures to reduce risk factors for violence.
Type I (Criminal Violence) Prevention Measures
Potential Type II (Recipient of Service) Prevention Measures
Potential Type III (Employment Relationship) Prevention Measures
Your assessment should include a regular review and maintenance of appropriate physical security measures, such as electronic access control systems, and video cameras, in a manner consistent with applicable state and federal laws. Don't overreact, not everybody needs metal detectors. Assess your risk factors for an accurate determination. If no money, drugs, or other high risk situations are present, detectors and cameras may be excessive.
Companies need to have programs in place to assist troubled employees and address managerial problems before threats or violence occur.
To facilitate developing an effective violence prevention plan that adequately addresses how to respond to potential and actual violent acts, a series of case studies are provided in this course. There you will find examples of the plans that were in place to handle a number of situations.
It will become apparent from reviewing these examples that plans for a coordinated response to reported incidents must be kept flexible. Responsibility for overall coordination and direction is usually assigned to one individual or one department. The coordinator must have the flexibility to use the plan as a guideline, not a mandatory set of procedures. More important, the coordinator must have the flexibility to tailor the recommended response to the particular situation. It is important to recognize that threatening situations often require creative responses. Given this, the importance of flexibility cannot be overemphasized.
The case studies highlight the need for backup plans in situations calling for an immediate response where the individual responsible for a certain aspect of the response effort has gone home for the day, is on vacation, or is out of the building at a meeting. Taking a team approach in responding to a potentially violent situation is an ideal way to provide backup coverage. A team approach ensures that all staff in Employee Relations, the Employee Assistance Program, Security, and other departments are thoroughly trained and prepared to work together with management to deal with potentially violent situations. It ensures coverage, regardless of which staffer in each of the departments is on duty when the incident occurs.
Finally, there are many programs and resources in the community that can help you develop your workplace violence prevention plan. Some examples follow:
Developing a written plan that clearly informs and directs is crucial to an effective violence prevention program. Now it's time to take the review quiz for this module, so let's get to it.
Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.
Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.