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Workplace Violence Prevention: From Policy to Training

A violence prevention policy is an important document to have in any workplace. It can help you secure your workplace and intervene effectively when violence threatens. It can also help employees act in their own best interest to reduce the risk of violence in the workplace.

While we are all glad that workplace violence is a relatively rare occurrence in most workplaces, we know now from so many incidents over the years that we must always be fully prepared to deal with it in a way that protects employees from harm. Having a written violence prevention plan can help save lives. Make sure you explain your organization’s violence policy to all employees, supervisors, and managers, and review it often so that everyone stays aware and alert.

Policy Pointers

When reviewing your violence prevention policy with employees, be prepared to take enough time to discuss risks, cover protective and preventive measures, and answer questions about risks and procedures.

Also address employee concerns, and assure them that you are doing everything possible to prevent incidents and deal with any threats that arise before they turn into actual violence. Tell them about your security equipment and procedures. And enlist their help in reporting security breaches.

Employee Perpetrators

Since it is often employees who commit acts of violence on co-workers and managers, everyone in your workplace need to be alert for any signs warning that someone is about to go over the edge. For example:

  • Employees plagued by financial or family problems, like Scott Dekraai (see yesterday’s post) who are reaching the breaking point
  • Angry, aggressive workers, who are looking for someone to blame or abuse
  • Disgruntled employees who feel they’ve been unfairly treated by management, like Shareef Allman (see yesterday’s post)
  • Workers who talk about “not taking it any more,” or “doing something to show them”
  • Employees who are into guns and talk about guns a lot
  • Workers who show a keen interest in incidents of workplace violence and talk about the killers in an almost admiring way
  • People who threaten to “get back” at somebody in the workplace
  • Workers who get into fights with other workers or threaten co-workers

Keeping an eye and an ear open for the kind of behavior or talk that indicates potential for violence is always wise. Encourage employees to immediately report any threats, language, or behavior that could be a sign that a co-worker might resort to violence.  You may not be able to identify all potentially violent people all the time, but paying attention can help detect some—and that could save some lives one day. When you do identify an employee you believe might resort to violence, don’t hesitate to refer the worker to a qualified counselor to determine the risk and help the employee resolve his or her issues peacefully.


Training to teach employees deal effectively with workplace violence is another essential part of violence prevention.

By the end of a violence prevention training session your employees should be able to:

  • Identify the causes of workplace violence
  • Spot the signs of potential violence
  • Follow required security procedures to prevent violence
  • Recognize and respond to threats
  • Respond effectively to violent acts

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