The Responsible Workplace

Lesson 2: Topic 5 of 6

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Much of those causes may be beyond your control, but at the very least, you should see to it that the workplace is not one of the contributing factors to someone deciding to commit an atrocity. Part of the prep work to address workplace violence is to make your company one where you show appreciation to the people who give a third or more of their day to you. Another potential way to help reach that goal is to offer the help of mental health professionals who can assist employees in dealing with the emotional impacts of an act of violence at work. If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), consider negotiating to have those services available before attacks occur. 

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A plan to protect against violence can be a completely separate document from your Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), or it can be a subset of it, since an EOP will have to address man-made disasters as well as natural ones. When drafting it, review all aspects of your enterprise, looking for ways they could be exploited by someone who intends harm: 

  • Building and grounds, including ease of entry
  • Location (e.g., access to routes of travel, the local crime rate)
  • Type of services offered to the public

Per the FBI, the vast majority of workplace violence incidents fall into the Type 1 category (criminal behavior). If this is what you’re dealing with or expecting, then security guards, fencing, barriers, alarms, and secured entrances can help. But if the crime rate is too high in your area and it’s not logistically or financially feasible to sufficiently protect your business from it, relocation may be your only option. 

As with Business Continuity Planning, seek input from a variety of staff. If, based on the above, it becomes clear that certain employees (or certain tasks) are at higher risk for violence than others, then overrepresent this group on the team that is writing the plan. They’re the ones in greatest potential danger, so their voices deserve to be heard. 

As part of your commitment, consider incorporating the Violence Protection Plan into your Quality Improvement process (QIP, QAPI, or whatever system you use). Preventing or mitigating attacks on staff, customers, and visitors to your workplace definitely falls under the auspices of improving quality. 

When it is complete, communicate the VPP broadly and regularly. And keep in mind it is never truly ‘complete;’ you’ll need to review the plan. We advise at least annually and always in the aftermath of a crisis.