Workplace Violence Prevention: Strategies That Work

June 25, 2024 · READ

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that nearly two million U.S. workers fall victim to workplace violence each year. This statistic highlights the critical need for comprehensive workplace violence prevention strategies. Reflecting this urgency, a recent study by Traliant reveals that 90% of respondents believe other states should adopt workplace violence prevention policies similar to California’s new law. This highlights a growing consensus that stronger legislative action is essential to protect employees across the country.

Proactively addressing and preventing workplace violence is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of employees and, often, customers or on-site visitors. In this guide, we’ll detail comprehensive strategies for mitigating risks and creating a safer work environment, based on our webinar, “Fortifying Your Defense: A Comprehensive Approach to Workplace Violence Prevention.”

What is workplace violence?

“It’s essential to revisit the foundation of what workplace violence is,” notes LeeAnn Smrekar-Kincal, Product Marketing Manager at Resolver. Workplace violence encompasses not only physical violence but also verbal abuse, harassment, and other aggressive behaviors. According to OSHA, workplace violence is defined as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” Understanding this broader definition helps in recognizing and preventing different forms of aggression in the workplace.

Knowing how to distinguish these behaviors early on can significantly mitigate risks and enhance workers’ safety. Smrekar-Kincal points out that educating employees about the different forms of workplace violence can foster a safer and more supportive workplace.

The importance of reporting workplace violence

Reporting incidents is crucial for visibility and prevention. Encouraging a culture of reporting helps identify early warning signs and disrupts potential pathways to violence. “Although over two million people report being victims of workplace violence, it’s estimated that 25% of these incidents go unreported,” Smrekar-Kincal emphasizes.

A step-by-step chart illustrating the escalation of violence, from 'underlying grievance' to 'violent ideation', 'research, surveillance & planning', 'preparations', 'boundary probe(s)', and culminating in 'violence', highlighting workplace violence prevention strategies.

Visual representation of “Pathways to Violence”

A culture of transparency and accountability can empower employees to report incidents without fear of retaliation. Providing multiple reporting channels, such as anonymous hotlines and digital reporting tools, ensures that employees feel safe and supported when reporting incidents.

The true cost of workplace violence

The financial impact of workplace violence is significant. American businesses lose an average of $250 to $330 billion annually due to these incidents. Beyond financial losses, there are other intangible losses, such as decreased employee morale.

“Workplace violence can have a major impact on an organization and its employees,” Smrekar-Kincal points out. The ripple effect of workplace violence can damage a company’s reputation, deter potential clients, and affect overall productivity. Proactively addressing this concern by implementing workplace violence prevention strategies can save businesses from these extensive costs and foster a healthier work environment.

Understanding workplace violence legislation

Various regulatory frameworks address workplace violence prevention. For instance, California is the first state to mandate mandates all businesses to develop, implement, and maintain effective workplace violence prevention strategies. This approach could set a precedent for other states.

Understanding the legal requirements for workplace violence prevention is imperative for compliance and protection. Organizations must stay informed about federal and state regulations to ensure their prevention programs meet legal standards. Adopting best practices from leading regulatory frameworks can enhance the effectiveness of your workplace violence prevention strategies.

Read more: California Bill 553 Compliance Explained: A Guide for Retail Safety

5 common types of workplace violence

Understanding the different categories of workplace violence is vital. These include:

  1. Criminal Intent: No relationship between the perpetrator and the business.
  2. Customer/Client: The offender has a connection to the organization. Often seen in healthcare, where violence occurs during service delivery.
  3. Worker on Worker: Conflicts between current or former employees.
  4. Personal Relationships: Includes domestic violence that spills into the workplace.
  5. Ideological Violence: Driven by extremist beliefs and often arises from opposing beliefs.

Each type of workplace violence requires tailored prevention and response strategies. For example, preventing criminal intent violence may involve enhancing physical security measures. Alternatively, addressing worker-on-worker violence might focus on conflict resolution and communication training. Recognizing these distinctions allows for more targeted and effective interventions.

Key components of an effective a threat management program

“A fully functioning threat management program empowers employees to report suspected threats,” explains Matthew Dumpert, Managing Director, Enterprise Security Risk Management at Kroll. This program should include clear reporting mechanisms and a well-trained, cross-disciplinary team.

1. Understand signs and symptoms of employee threats

Identifying early warning signs is pivotal. These include erratic behavior, perceived injustices, substance abuse, and significant changes in performance. “We need to trust our instincts and encourage our workforce to report these indicators,” Dumpert advises.

Training employees to recognize these signs can prevent potential violence. Providing clear guidelines on what constitutes a threat and how to report it ensures that employees can act swiftly and appropriately. Regularly reviewing and updating these guidelines can help keep them relevant and effective.

2. Implement workplace violence prevention strategies and training

Supplying accessible reporting tools ensures that everyone can participate in maintaining a safe workplace. “Empowering your employees with training and resources to collectively keep one another safe is key,” says Dumpert.

Training programs should cover various aspects of existing workplace violence prevention strategies, including recognizing signs, de-escalation techniques, and emergency response. Regular drills and simulations can help reinforce these skills and ensure employees are prepared to handle real-life situations. A well-prepared workforce is better equipped to prevent and respond to workplace violence.

Learn more about Organizational Threat Management Training

3. Leverage technology for threat management and protection

Leveraging modern technologies can significantly enhance your workplace violence prevention strategies. Tools such as Resolver’s Incident Management and Threat Protection software offer comprehensive solutions for identifying threats early, as well as, tracking, managing, and analyzing incidents. These platforms provide real-time data and insights, enabling organizations to identify patterns and take proactive measures.

Stylized "threats of violence" dashboard

Technology can streamline the security incident reporting and response process, making it easier to track and manage incidents. Advanced analytics can help identify trends and potential risks, allowing for more targeted interventions. Integrating technology into your workplace violence prevention strategies can improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Risk intelligence platforms like Resolver consolidate security data, automating data collection and analysis. “Having a platform to bring all your security data together helps proactively identify risks,” Smrekar-Kincal highlights.

Using built-in dashboards from incident management software to track key performance indicators (KPIs) helps measure the effectiveness of prevention programs. Regularly reviewing these metrics ensures continuous improvement and adaptation to new threats.

Learn the 5 key stages of a successful incident management process. Download our free guide! Get the e-Book now!

Learn how Resolver helps prevent workplace violence

Workplace violence is an inevitable challenge, but with proactive measures, its frequency and impact can be significantly reduced. Resolver helps prevent workplace violence with tools for real-time threat assessment, ensuring a swift response to potential workplace dangers. Through comprehensive policies and training, you can promote early reporting of violent or harassing behavior. By supporting continuous monitoring and incident documentation, our Threat Protection Software can enhance your workplace safety strategies and help you with actionable insights to build a more secure work environment.

To learn more about implementing effective workplace violence prevention strategies, book a demo with Resolver today. Explore a short video walkthrough of our award-winning Threat Protection Software to see how Resolver can enhance your workplace violence prevention programs today.

FAQ: Common questions on workplace violence prevention

Q: What are the 7 elements of a workplace violence prevention program?

A: The seven elements typically include: management commitment, employee involvement, hazard assessment, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training, recordkeeping and program evaluation, and coordination with external parties.

Q: What is workplace violence and how can it be prevented?

A: Workplace violence includes physical violence, harassment, intimidation, and other threatening behaviors. Prevention involves implementing comprehensive programs, training employees, encouraging reporting, and using technology to monitor and address risks.

Q: How can we reduce the risk of workplace violence?

A: Reducing risk involves creating a culture of awareness, implementing threat management programs, conducting regular training, and ensuring clear reporting mechanisms are in place.

Q: What are 5 ways to prevent violence?

A: Five ways include: promoting a positive workplace culture, providing conflict resolution training, implementing security measures, encouraging open communication, and offering support services for employees.

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