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Workplace Violence Policy – Is yours up to speed?

May 14th, 2012 Comments off

What types of conduct does your written workplace violence prevention policy define and include? If it is only limited to actual physical violence it will fall short of recent standards. Such standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA – see directive CPL 02-01-052 dated 9/8/11) and ASIS/SHRM’s Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention – American National Standard document both define workplace violence with fairly broad language. In order for your policy to provide some hope of prevention, as well as a reasonable defense in court, the following types of activity and conduct must be addressed by the policy:

  • Criminal activity within the workspace
  • Customer /client / patient confrontations
  • Personal partner abuse/ domestic violence spilling into the workspace
  • Aggressive co-worker issues such as abusive emails, verbal threats, hostile intimidation, and any other unacceptable behavior that invokes fear in the workspace
  • Bullying and Cyber-bullying

Much of this conduct is subject to assessment of ‘degree’, especially bullying, but your policy should give clear examples of what the unacceptable conduct could be. Absent written directives forbidding such behavior, often nobody is willing to recognize it as workplace violence related and therefore it goes unreported. This will not only assure its continuation, but will probably be interpreted as acceptance and lead to more drastic, or aggressive, conduct. If it seems like there might be some spillover into other policies governing employee conduct, like into Harassment Prevention Policy, so be it. You still want to address the unacceptable behavior, see that it is reported, and take action to stop it. If abusive or aggressive conduct is addressed by more than one policy, that’s fine.

To be effective the Workplace Violence Policy has to be understood by the workforce and the only method for achieving that is through training. This training has to be done at the employee level for all. Employees actually have to be considered your first line of reporting responsibility. They should learn the behavioral red flags and the reporting requirements expected. Training also has to be done for the supervisors who are going to be your second line of responsibility to investigate the issues. Then the Case Assessment Team should be given even more specific training as to how the policy is to be applied and enforced.

Workplace courtesy and safety should be a simple issue of applying those universal rules of behavior we all should have learned by the time we were 5 years old. It has however become a complicated issue with social and legal consequences for both the perpetrators and the companies/organizations that fail to control them.

Check out our whole Workplace Violence Prevention series of training courses at www.imac-training.com.

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ASIS / SHRM American National Standard on Workplace Violence

November 24th, 2011 Comments off

On October 5, 2011 ASIS International  and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) issued a joint “ASIS/SHRM Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention, American National Standard” aimed at helping organizations implement policies and practices to more quickly identify threatening behavior and violence affecting the workplace, and to assist in effective incident case management and resolution. This new standard reportedly reflects a consensus from professionals in the fields of security, human resources (HR), mental health, law enforcement and legal. I find it particularly symbolic that these two International associations, both the largest representing practitioners in their respective security and human resource professions, worked so closely on this standard. For years, I have been emphasizing the importance of security and HR departments within organizations working together to recognize and resolve these types of issues as a coordinated effort along with other disciplines such as legal, health services, law enforcement, and external experts on the subject. This standard is well written and robust while being flexible enough to be applied to just about any workplace or work environment.

The document addresses the scope of the problem by defining what types of conduct it has included in its definition of workplace violence. It outlines training suggested for employees, supervisors and the threat management team and encourages the use of external expertise to help conduct both the training and the case assessment process. It also references the subject of my last blog which was the recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) directive CPL 02-01-052 which established for the first time, general policy guidance and procedures for OSHA field offices to apply when conducting inspections in response to workplace violence incidents. The standard outlines problematic behavior patterns and highlights the importance of recognition and reporting of such behavior. From policy development, to implementation of preventive measures, to response options, I found this document to be very useful and one that could be used as a guide for companies just developing WV prevention programs or refining the ones they already have. It is also identified other sources of research information and listings of specific State statutes and executive orders regarding workplace and domestic violence.

For specific workplace violence prevention training and planning options check out the educational programs on our training web-site www.imac-training.com

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