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Course 720 - Preventing Workplace Violence

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VPP Education and Training

Note: The information in this module provides guidance for the company planning group. It is not technical information for professional investigators; nor is it a summary of fact-finding or investigating procedures. Rather, it is intended to provide the company planning group with a general overview of fact-finding/investigating considerations. It is also important to note this section discusses investigations that are administrative inquiries as distinct from criminal investigations.

Training Violence Prevention

Training is a critical component of any prevention strategy. Training is necessary for employees, supervisors, and the staff members of each department who may be involved in responding to an incident of workplace violence. Training and instruction on workplace violence ensures all staff are aware of potential hazards and how to protect themselves and their co-workers through established prevention and control measures.

Providing appropriate training informs employees that management will take threats seriously, encourages employees to report incidents, and demonstrates management's commitment to deal with reported incidents.

Training Strategies and Techniques

While most everyone agrees there are clear warning signs before most acts of workplace violence, what action should be taken varies. Nevertheless, making information available to your employees about the potential for violence in the workplace, how to recognize the early warning signs of a troubled or potentially violent person, and how to respond to such a person, could save a life.

Not all individuals who are distraught over services (or lack thereof) or their termination of employment, will become violent. The primary type of training that may be beneficial to all employees is that which concentrates on conflict resolution.

Various federal and state laws, or judicial decisions may require the employer to establish written policy and procedures dealing with harassment, as well as the training of employees on sexual or racial harassment, intrusion, company policies prohibiting fighting, the use of drugs or alcohol in the workplace, and the like.

Employers may avoid liability for acts of violence in the workplace where it is shown that the employer conducted training for employees on the recognition of warning signs of potentially violent behavior, as well as precautions which may enhance the personal safety of the employee in the workplace and in the field.

Training sessions conducted by the company's Employee Assistance Program, Security, and Human Resources staffs are particularly helpful, enabling employees to get to know experts within the company who can help them when potentially violent situations arise. Employees and supervisors seek assistance at a much earlier stage when they personally know the company officials who can help them.

Employee Training

All employees should know how to report incidents of violent, intimidating, threatening and other disruptive behavior. All employees should also be provided with phone numbers for quick reference during a crisis or an emergency. In addition, workplace violence prevention training for employees may also include topics such as:

  • Explanation of the company's workplace violence policy;
  • Encouragement to report incidents;
  • Ways of preventing or diffusing volatile situations or aggressive behavior;
  • Types of training;
  • How to deal with hostile persons;
  • Managing anger;
  • Techniques and skills to resolve conflicts;
  • Stress management, relaxation techniques, or wellness training;
  • Security procedures, e. g., the location and operation of safety devices such as alarm systems;
  • Personal security measures; and
  • Programs operating within the company that can assist employees in resolving conflicts, e. g., the Employee Assistance Program, the ombudsman, and mediation.

Supervisory Training

Employers will benefit from training on workplace violence as part of general supervisory training, some conduct separate training sessions on workplace violence, and some include it in crisis management training. Whichever approach is taken, supervisory leadership training should cover:

  • Ways to encourage employees to report incidents in which they feel threatened for any reason by anyone inside or outside the organization
  • Skills in behaving compassionately and supportively towards employees who report incidents
  • Skills in taking disciplinary actions
  • Basic skills in handling crisis situations
  • Basic emergency procedures
  • How to ensure appropriate screening of pre-employment references has been done.

Special attention should be paid to supervisory training in management skills. The same approaches that create a healthy, productive workplace can also help prevent potentially violent situations. It is important that supervisory training include basic management skills such as:

  • Setting clear standards
  • Addressing employee problems promptly
  • Probationary periods
  • Performance counseling
  • Administering disciplinary procedures

These interventions can keep difficult situations from turning into major problems. Supervisors don't need to be experts on violent behavior; what is needed is a willingness to seek advice from the experts.

Incident Response Team Training

The members of the incident response team need to be competent in their own assigned duties and they need to know when to call for outside resources. Participating in programs and training sessions sponsored by government and professional organizations, reading professional journals and other literature, and networking with others in the profession are all helpful in dealing with workplace violence situations.

Team members also need to understand enough about each other's professions to allow them to work together effectively. Response team training should allow discussion of policies, legal constraints, technical vocabulary, and other considerations that each profession brings to the interdisciplinary group.

Much of the incident response team training can be accomplished by practicing responses to different scenarios of workplace violence. The case studies in this course are intended for this purpose. Practice exercises can help the staff understand each other's responses to various situations so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding during an actual incident. In addition, practice exercises can prepare the staff to conduct the supervisory training suggested above.

The team members also need to consult regularly with other personnel within the organization who may be involved in dealing with potentially violent situations. Those who are consulted on an as needed basis should receive some appropriate training as well.

Sample Training Topics

Review the program

Extent of the Problem

  • List statistics relative to your industry here. Use national and statewide information.
  • You can also discuss the crime statistics of the neighborhood the company is in. Some of this information is listed throughout this course.

Risk Factors

  • Discuss the risk factors in your particular industry here.

Worksite Analysis

  • Discuss the violence history of your company. You can use the number of incidents, the rate and/or the types.

Security Hardware

  • Have the manager of your unit show you security hardware. (Put a checklist here of equipment you have at your company to prevent violence. This might include panic buttons, video cameras, security lighting, etc.)

Work Practice Controls

  • Discuss policies and procedures you have implemented to minimize violence in your company. Include any written procedures. Be sure to address your company's weapons policy and how to summon help in an emergency.

Follow-up Procedures

Report all Assaults

Include here a copy of the form your company uses to report violent incidents.

File charges

(Company name) recommends that charges be filed in every case when an employee is assaulted. We will help you to do so including sending witnesses to testify if needed.

No reprisals will be taken against any employee who is assaulted or files charges relating to an assault.

Counseling

If a violent incident occurs, all affected staff will be offered counseling through an employee assistance program or other comparable counseling services.

Role Playing Exercises to Defuse Violent Situations

Read the information in the charts below. Then have employees role-play a confrontation. During the role-play, note the signs of escalating behavior and the techniques used to control it. Afterwards have the group discuss their observations. Address the following questions: What went well? What problems were there? What responses would work better?

Write a scenario about a violent incident for a couple of employees to act out. Use a case scenario in this course or make up one appropriate to your company. See the Five Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior and Personal Conduct to Minimize Violence.

Hands-on Practice

If the violence in your workplace comes from unarmed people such as patients, you may want to train your employees in self defense and restraining techniques. Have your employees actually try out the techniques. Remember, in cases with armed perpetrators, such as robberies, it is usually safer to submit to the perpetrator's demands.

Fill the Skills Gaps

Skills deficiencies exist even in large companies with numerous resources at hand. In some organizations training is needed. However, crisis situations occur infrequently and it is often not practical to maintain in-house expertise for every aspect of the company's response plan.

If this is the case, suggested sources of outside assistance include:

Government Agencies

Get to know specialists in government agencies. They may be an invaluable resource for learning about new training materials and effective training approaches.

Local Police

If you do not have in-house security, get to know your local police departments. Invite them in to work with your planning group. They can recommend security measures. They can tell you about jurisdiction and what they would do if you called them during an incident. They can teach employees personal safety techniques and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Other Community Resources

Locate and work with resources in your community. For example, if you don't have immediate access to emergency mental health consultation, you can work with your local community mental health department, "hotline" staff, hospital, or emergency crisis center. A nearby university may have faculty who are willing to be consulted.

There you have it! I hope you have a better understanding of the education and training necessary to ensure an effective violence prevention program. Once again, it's time for a really tough review quiz ;-) so let's go.

Instructions

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.

Good luck!

1. The primary type of training that may be beneficial to all employees is one that concentrates on _____.

2. At a minimum, all employees should be trained in how to _____.

3. Incident response team training should include _____ to minimize confusion or misunderstanding during an actual incident.

4. Supervisor training should emphasize encouraging employees to report incidents in which they feel threatened for any reason by anyone inside or outside the organization.

5. To de-escalate potentially violent situations in your daily interactions with people, all of the following would be taught as appropriate strategies, except _____.


Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.