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Home > Services > Corporate LP Programs > Preventing Workplace Violence


Preventing Workplace Violence

Preventing Workplace Violence; Background Checks, Substance Abuse Screening, Accident Response, Drug Testing, Beating, Stabbings, Shootings, Suicide


Tony Jarana, president of Summit Loss Prevention Consulting, has more than 25 years of investigative and LP experience to offer to businesses of all types and sizes, when dealing with difficult loss prevention issues. Among these include workplace violence, a huge, and often un-talked about, problem that costs companies millions of dollars a year in lost productivity and liability claims.

See the course outline of Summit's Workplace Violence Prevention Training Program.

Workplace Violence Defined & How to Prevent It

Workplace violence is defined as "any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting." This includes, but is not limited to, the buildings and the surrounding perimeters, including the parking lots, field locations, clients’ homes and traveling to and from work assignments. A workplace may be any location either permanent or temporary where an employee performs any work-related duty.

Summit can provide consulting and site assessment services to help reduce or prevent workplace violence, as well as a comprehensive management training program highlighting information to spot potential problems, as well as violence prevention options. 

Workplace Violence: Startling Statistics

According to the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime :

  • Homicide is the second leading cause of death in the workplace
  • In 1997, there were 856 homicides in America’s workplaces
  • Assaults and threats of violence number almost 2 million a year. The most common acts were:
    • Simple assaults: 1.5 million a year
    • Aggravated assaults: 396,000
    • Rapes and sexual assaults: 51,000
    • Robberies: 84,000
    • Homicides: nearly 1,000
  • An average of 1.7 million people were victims of violent crime while working or on duty in the United States, according to a report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), each year from 1993 through 1999


    For the same time period, over 800 workplace homicides per year were recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries

  • Economic Impact of Workplace Violence
    • Cost 500,000 employees 1,175,100 lost work days each year
    • Lost wages: $55 million annually
    • Lost productivity, legal expenses, property damage, diminished public image, increased security: $ Billions! $

Categories and Types of Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is generally categorized into have four distinct types of violent occurrences, including:

  • Type 1 - Violent acts by a person with no personal connection to employee/other victims
  • Type 2 - Violent acts by inmates, patients or customers while employees are providing services
  • Type 3 - Violent acts against Co-workers or Managers by current or former employees
  • Type 4 – Violent acts in workplace by someone with personal relationship with employee

Types of workplace violence include:

  • Beatings
  • Stabbings
  • Suicides
  • Shootings
  • Rapes
  • Near-suicides
  • Psychological traumas
  • Threats or obscene phone calls
  • Intimidation
  • Harassment of any nature
  • Being followed, sworn or shouted at

Examples of workplace violence include:

  • Verbal threats to inflict bodily harm; including vague or covert threats
  • Attempting to cause physical harm; striking, pushing and other aggressive physical acts against another person
  • Verbal harassment; abusive or offensive language, gestures or other discourteous conduct towards supervisors, fellow employees, or the public
  • Disorderly conduct, such as shouting, throwing or pushing objects, punching walls, and slamming doors
  • Making false, malicious or unfounded statements against coworkers, supervisors, or subordinates which tend to damage their reputations or undermine their authority
  • Inappropriate remarks, such as making delusional statements
  • Fascination with guns or other weapons, bringing weapons into the workplace

You Can Make an Impact on Workplace Violence

Everyone is affected by workplace violence, whether they realize it or not. It takes a concerted effort of many individuals and agencies to reduce the threat of violence, including:

  • Employers
  • Employees
  • Law Enforcement
  • Unions
  • osha Agencies
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Other Professionals in Field

The first step in reducing violence in the workplace is to develop a Violence Prevention Plan. To be effective, the plan:

  • Must Have Support at Top
  • Be a Component of a Comprehensive Loss Prevention Program
  • Must be Proactive not Reactive
  • Should Improve Culture of Business if Current Environment Poor
  • Should Utilize a Team Approach – All Management Involved
  • Need to be Flexible: No One Strategy – Assessment of Factors Critical to Success
  • Must be Taught and Practiced
  • Needs to Stay Current and Vital - Update, Revise and Retrain as Necessary

Components of Typical Workplace Violence Prevention Plan

  • Policy Statement – Standards of Acceptable Behavior
  • Physical Security Survey
  • Procedures for Addressing Issues
  • Designate and Train a Threat Assessment / Response Team
    • Specialized Training
    • Authority to Act
    • Open Lines of Communication
    • Is Someone Making a Threat or Do They Pose a Threat?
  • Make Outside Resources Accessible
  • Training of Management and Employee Groups
  • Crisis Response Measures
  • Consistent Enforcement of Standards and Application of Discipline

Be Aware of Potential Workplace Violence – Ways to Reduce Your Vulnerabilities

While workplace violence is difficult to predict, there are proven methods to help reduce your company's vulnerability and liability, including:

  • Pre-employment Screenings – Background Checks
  • Employment History – Issues in Past are Good Predictor
  • Interview Questions Designed to Reveal Problematic Traits
  • Recognize Current Employee Situations in Proactive Manner
  • Consider Work Environment, Conditions, and Employee Attitudes:
    • Restructuring
    • Labor Disputes
    • Compulsory Overtime
    • Poor Management Styles
    • Inadequate Security
    • High Injury Rates
    • High Turnover
    • High Grievance Rates 
    • Excessive Worker’s Compensation Claims
    • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Abuse

In order to maintain a successful violence prevention program, certain security and/or loss prevention needs should be implemented, maintained or updated, including:

  • Verified and Consistently Updated Employee Contact Information
  • Maintain Photo Identification on File
  • Employee Status Report
    • Promoted/Demoted
    • Suspended
    • Terminated
    • Particular Circumstances - Pro or Con?
  • Alarm Signals/Security Phones
  • Access Controls - Keys, Passwords, IDs, etc.
  • Engineering Controls
    • Alarm systems and other security devices
    • Metal detectors
    • Closed-circuit video recording for high-risk areas
    • Safe rooms for use during emergencies
    • Enclosed nurses’ station: install deep service counters or bullet-resistant glass in reception area, triage and admitting
  • Administrative and Work Practice Controls
    • State clearly to patients, clients, and employees that violence will not be tolerated or permitted
    • Establish liaison with local police and state prosecutors
    • Require employees to report all assaults and threats
    • Set up trained response teams to respond to emergencies
  • Adequate and Easily Identified Escape Routes
  • Practice the Plan!!!

How to Reduce Workplace Violence: Training, Training and More Training

Training, and the reinforcement of the training, is the best way to reduce violence in your workplace. Continuous, vigilant attention to the problem has been proven to show concrete results in the reduction of violent acts.

All employees must be included in the training program to be effective. A comprehensive violence prevention training program should include:

  • Policy Statement
  • Risk Factors for Violence
  • Early Recognition Signs
  • Action Response Plans
  • Physical Security – Alarms/Phones/Assistance
  • Policy and Procedure for Reports and Record Keeping
  • Policy and Procedure for Violent Episodes
  • Periodic Employee Surveys – Attitudes/Job Changes/New Physical Measures
  • Review for Trends – Frequency / Severity
  • Stay Current
  • Recognize Threats and Ominous Behavior – Never Ignore Indicators/Events
    • How to Determine if “Threat” was Established
    • Threat Definition – Statement or _Expression of Intention to Hurt/Destroy/Punish
    • Critical Elements - Recognizing threats
    • Prevalence of handguns and other weapons among patients, their families, or friends
    • Increasing use of hospitals by the criminal justice system for criminal holds and the care of acutely disturbed, violent individuals
    • Increasing number of acute and chronically mentally ill patients being released from hospitals without follow-up care, who now have the right to refuse medicine and who can no longer be hospitalized involuntarily unless they pose a threat to themselves or others
    • Availability of drugs and money at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, making them likely robbery targets
    • Unrestricted movement of the public in clinics and hospitals
    • Presence of gang members, drug/alcohol abusers, trauma patients, distraught family members
    • Low staffing levels during times of increased activity such as meal and visiting times, transporting of patients
    • Isolated work with clients during exams or treatment
    • Solo work, often in remote locations, high crime settings with no back-up or means of obtaining assistance such as communication devices or alarm systems
    • Lack of training in recognizing and managing escalating hostile and aggressive behavior

    • Poorly-lighted parking areas
  • Nature or Context of Threat
  • Target / Motivation / Ability to Act on Threat
  • Background Factors
  • Appropriate Response
    • Do Not Respond Immediately if Not Necessary
    • Response Should Match Risk – “911” – Suspension/Termination – Other Discipline
    • Discipline / Zero Tolerance Policy
      • Standard is "All Responded To – Not Necessarily Terminated"
      • This is Critical for Open Communication – Receiving Information

For more information about establishing a Workplace Violence Prevention Training Program, call 317-363-8312, send email to info@SummitLossPrevention.com. or submit the short form below:

   
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