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: for example, the company's accident prevention plan or an employee handbook.
Warning Signs of Violence
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 that 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 that 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."
Indicators of potentially violent behavior
However, indicators of increased risk of violent behavior are available. These indicators have been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Profiling and Behavioral Assessment Unit in its analysis of past incidents of workplace violence. These are some of the indicators:
Describing inappropriate behaviors
The written violence prevention plan should list sample inappropriate behaviors and emphasize that they need to be dealt with immediately. These behaviors should not be tolerated in the workplace. Appropriate procedures should be stated in the he plan so that managers and fellow employees know what to do in case they observe or are the object of:
Be proactive: confront the problem early-on
Each of the behaviors noted above is a clear sign that 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 appoint 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.
Proactive control measures
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):
Posting applicable laws, such as those prohibiting assaults and stalking, in visible locations may also serve as a prevention measure.
Prevention measures for each violence type
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.
More about administrative control strategies
Companies need to have programs in place to assist troubled employees and address managerial problems before threats or violence occur.
In developing an employee screening process, remember the Americans with Disabilities Act of l990 (ADA) and related state statutes prohibit employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with physical or mental disabilities. While federal law and judicial decisions provide that an employer may disqualify an employee who is a danger to self or others, the employer may be obliged to investigate a claim of disability to determine whether dismissal is necessary for the protection of the employee or others in the workplace.
Take Advantage of Community Resources
Finally, there are many programs and resources in the community that can help you develop your workplace violence prevention plan. Some examples follow:
Source: OPM Office of Personnel Management
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