Workplace Violence: HR Must Lead In Prevention

GunsThe murder of two reporters on the staff of WDBJ in Virginia has provided a stark, graphic and visual reminder that workplace violence can occur anywhere, and under many different circumstances. While there are many legal reasons for human resources to plan for and put in place prevention strategies, and there are certainly financial and humanitarian reasons to do so, not all companies are properly prepared.

There is a sense of isolation, and/or a false sense of protection from being in office buildings, and smaller businesses, in particular may not not have workplace violence on their radars.

Yet, violence can happen in our “protected” environments, whether in a company of one, or a large multinational. HR is the logical business unit that should lead the move to clear workplace violence policies and procedures.

Carol Frederickson, in an article entitled 7 Factors That Drastically Increase Workplace Violence, suggests that organizations are failing to take action against workplace violence in seven ways:

1. A weak, misunderstood or non-existent policy against all forms of violence in the workplace
2. Failure to educate managers and supervisors in recognizing early warning signs or symptoms of impending violence and their responsibility to take action
3. No appropriate and safe mechanism for reporting violent or threatening behavior
4. Failure to take immediate action against those who have threatened or committed acts of workplace violence
5. Inadequate physical security
6. Negligence in the hiring, training, supervision, discipline and retention of employees
7. Lack of in-house employee support systems

If you are lacking in any of the above, it’s time to address them now.

Resources For Workplace Violence Planning and Prevention

Fortunately there are many sources you can use to help you improve your policies and procedures to make your workplace more safe. Below are just a few:

Developing Work Violence Plans (Ontario Gov) By Ontario Government
Excellent guide to creating a plan to deal with work violence and harassment, produced by the Department of Labour of Ontario, Canada 
ENA Workplace Violence Toolkit – Step By Step To Safety At Work By na
Multi page guide to creating a workplace violence plan that both prevents violence, and provides steps for dealing with violence when it occurs. 
Example: Workplace Violence Plan And Policy By na
Template for developing a violence in the workplace plan and/or a corporate business policy. 
Plans to prevent workplace violence urged By Gabrielle Banks
News article that cites relaxed gun and weapons laws in the US require much more effort to prevent workplace violence. It’s a startling article because it contains some bad news statistics.
Preventing Workplace Violence By F. John Reh
This is a great article discussing workplace violence and how to prevent it. Also included are links to other sites with valuable preventative tips. 
THE Workplace Violence Guide From The FBI By FBI
If you read ONE document on work violence, read this one. 80 page complete with example policy, questions to ask, it’s the most comprehensive guide to preventing and dealing with violence in the workplace. 
Workplace Violence – Developing A Workplace Violence Plan or Policy By OSHA
Aimed at the health industry but applicable to all, this article deals with creating a plan to PREVENT workplace violence. Contains links to other valuable violence related materials 
Workplace Violence: Why Every State Must Adopt a Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Law By Cornell HR Review
You’d think that by now, states and provinces would have laws regarding violence prevention in the workplace, but according to this article, that’s not the case. It suggests States are still lagging behind the eight ball when it comes to requiring violence prevention actions. 

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