Thinking about a Model for Workplace Violence Prevention

Since I posted my blog yesterday – I got a big reaction, which ranged from those who thought there was no need for any standards on workplace violence prevention and believes that people will should help each other.  “Work place violence cannot be stopped by legislation! Good feelings cannot be legislated!  They are stopped by a community who cares!”, one reader commented.  

Obviously, people like Omar up in Manchester, Connecticut might have been treated in a more caring manner, with as much dignity as you can give to someone stealing beer on camera, but I could not disagree more with this statement.   I’m hot on standards – and these days, more than ever, people need lots of direction on how to do their job and how to apply security-related concepts.

Have you done any hiring lately?  Some people we’ve interviewed need to have every part of their job written down for them.  There seems to be less incentive to solve a problem that is not directly in the job description.   That’s one argument for setting some kind of minimum standard for companies, to assist them in dealing with the workplace violence increase. 

Standards make life easier for everyone because you don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel – wheels now come in standard sizes, too.   

One of the reasons it is an attractive idea to create a standardized program for WV is because it is usually totally preventable.  Many of these people leave an enormous trail of clues that they are considering something drastic – including detailed plans in writing on Facebook.   Another reader pointed out that California does have a workplace violence prevention standard.  I checked and found it here:

The Cal/OSHA policy includes this little nugget, “The demographic profile of victims of fatal workplace assaults indicate that the majority are male. However, even though the overall fatal workplace injury rate for women is substantially lower than it is for men, homicides represent the leading cause of death for women in the workplace.”  WOW.

Cal/OSHA also offers a resource guide – The Model Injury and Illness Prevention Program for Workplace Security (a nice term).     Like everything else related to security, the actual workplace violence incident is usually a slow escalation over time.  That’s exactly why it is possible to deter, or prevent it – because there are signs everywhere, and lots of coping strategies you can learn.

I worked on a project in Thailand where a manager from a big box store had been fired and humiliated.  His revenge was to call in bomb threats – FOR A YEAR.  Only when those were totally ignored did he actually bring a bomb into the facility and yes, it went off, and yes, it killed a young security guard.

But, they had ONE YEAR to take him seriously and get help for him.  Many of these incidents also have a long wind up before the actual incident is triggered.

WHY SHOULD WE CARE?  I totally buy the argument that more people are killed from industrial injuries and lightning and car accidents, than in a WV incident, but these things are usually hard to predict or detect in advance.  Think about it – the fall off the ladder, the accidental electrocution, the surprise car crash — all more random and UN-preventable.

Workplace violence IS usually preventable, in all the stages.  From the first stage when the employee starts to feel that they have been unfairly treated, right through to how to handle an insanely angry person who happens to be packing.

That’s why training is so important, because it can prepared employees to deal with an incident, and it may even help them recognize and deal with their own issues.  Here’s another note from Cal/OSHA,The cornerstone of an effective workplace security plan is appropriate training of all employees, supervisors and managers. Employers with employees at risk for workplace violence must educate them about the risk factors associated with the various types of workplace violence and provide appropriate training in crime awareness, assault and rape prevention and defusing hostile situations. Also, employers must instruct their employees about what steps to take during an emergency incident.”

Who wants to write me and help develop a National Standard for Workplace Violence Prevention?   Let me know at