Safe and Secure Addressing Workplace Violence




Muñoz, Griselda

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Institute for Homeland Security


Workplace violence entails any act or threat of violence, verbal abuse, or physical assaults towards individuals at work. This could arise from criminal intent, customer/client interactions, worker-on-worker disputes, or personal relationships. Industries dealing with the public, money handling, lone work, or operating in high-crime areas face elevated risk. It is critical for organizations to have preventive policies for workplace violence that include risk assessments, enhanced security measures, and employee training for recognizing and addressing potential violence. A culture of open communication, respect, and confidential incident reporting should be promoted. Workplace violence response plans must be comprehensive, encompassing support for affected employees, incident investigations, law enforcement engagement, and suitable disciplinary actions. Regular training should focus on prevention, recognition of warning signs, situation deescalation, and incident reporting. Special training should be provided for management and HR to handle sensitive situations and support affected staff. Post-incident support, including counseling, flexible work arrangements, and trauma coping resources, is crucial. Regular policy review and update are necessary for legal compliance and interdepartmental collaboration. Thorough background checks for potential hires are recommended. Early detection of warning signs, such as aggressive behavior, verbal threats, weapon possession, substance abuse, or sudden behavioral changes, can prevent violence and promote a safer workplace. Prevention and response strategies involve fostering a safe environment through conflict resolution, employee assistance programs, and active employee participation. Emphasis should be on zero-tolerance for violence, regular training, and policy communication to all staff. Emergency preparedness requires response plans for violent incidents, regular drills, physical security assessments, and updates. Constant evaluation of implemented strategies, promotion of diversity and inclusivity, collaboration with external agencies, and ongoing communication with employees are key. It's beneficial to recognize and reward employees for maintaining safety, promoting overall wellbeing, adapting measures for remote employees, monitoring social media, and conducting post incident analysis. Benchmarking, implementing visible security measures, promoting open communication, involving employees in strategy development, providing whistleblower protection, and offering customized training are also necessary. 5 The strategy should encompass mental health support, clear behavior expectations, policy reviews, awareness campaigns, and exit interviews. Cross-functional teams should be established, external consultants engaged, incidents tracked, a crisis management plan developed, communication channels established, educational materials provided, safety drills conducted, and partnerships with community organizations formed. Organizational leadership must promote a safety culture and be accountable for implementing initiatives. A proactive approach to workplace violence prevention can enhance organizational performance, reputation, employee satisfaction, and retention rates, while building trust and credibility, reducing legal risks, fostering engagement, and boosting overall resilience.



Workplace Violence


Muñoz, G. (2023) Safe & Secure Addressing Workplace Violence. (Report No. IHS/CR-20231009). The Sam Houston State University Institute for Homeland Security.