Workplace Violence Prevention: What Can I Do?

Handling Workplace ViolenceOur previous blog discussed identifying some of the warning signs for workplace violence. Once you know the signs of a violent act, the best defense is to be aware of actions you can take now to mitigate exposures in your workplace so that you and your coworkers don’t become victims. The best defense against workplace violence is prevention.

Start with a hazard assessment.

As a human resources company, we know that protecting employees against workplace violence requires a good action plan. Gather a team of stakeholders in your company, and your human resources department, and assess the following risks of workplace violence for each employee:

  • Does your business involve the general public? Do you have frequent visitors? Do you require visitors to provide some form of identification?
  • Are entrances minimized and secured, and do they require employee action to allow entry? If you have dock doors at your facility, are your employees keeping these wide open on warmer days? If your entrances are secured, encourage your employees to never prop open doors, even if you’re trying to accommodate package deliveries or if the door is broken. The key is to KEEP IT SECURED!
  • Do you have a security plan with specific procedures and assignment of responsibility? Do you review and update them annually?
  • Does an employee’s job require them to be the messenger of bad news (e.g, performance appraisals, discussing action plans for poor performers, or hiring and firing)?
  • Think about the environment for each department or each employee. How much time would an individual have to react if there is an act of workplace violence? What’s their field of view and how far can they see someone coming into their workspace?
  • Do employees work solo or in isolation? Even if they work alone, we need to be aware of our surroundings at all times.

Active Shooter Plan Development

As you consider these elements of your work environment and which employees may be at risk, also remember to develop an Active Shooter Plan. The vast majority of active shooter events happen very quickly and are typically over in 5-10 minutes. Law enforcement will be the first to tell you that you can’t rely on them to save you. You must develop an action plan with your human resources team that you and your coworkers can follow to survive.

Develop your plan based on the three E’s: ESCAPE, EVADE, and ENGAGE. You may also see this presented as Run, Hide, and Fight.

  1. First and foremost, try to ESCAPE from the situation. Get as far away as you can possibly go. Your Emergency Action Plan should identify collection point(s) so your team can be accounted for after the incident.
  2. If ESCAPE is not possible, you’ll want to EVADE. This means sheltering in-place and putting items such as walls, desks, chair, bookcases, etc. between you and the attacker. Look at doors and plan how you might be able to keep them from being opened.
  3. Lastly, if EVASION is not working, you should ENGAGE the attacker. This might involve throwing items at the attacker. Maybe that stapler on your desk or the fire extinguisher on the wall has more than one use. Keep in mind that you’re trying to distract the attacker to buy you more time to help ESCAPE or EVADE further. Your very last resort may require actual physical contact with the attacker.

Develop a company workplace violence policy, implement it, then train and re-train! When you partner with one of Cornerstone’s human resources specialists, you create a partnership that enables the development of strong company policies. Contact Cornerstone Insurance Group if you’d like further information. You can also watch our webinar on workplace violence if you missed it. 

Written by Tom Scherrer, CSP, CFPS, Loss Control Consultant at Cornerstone Insurance Group.