Best Practices for Creating a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan
For business owners across the US, addressing rising levels of violence in the workplace has become a top priority. Today, whether in the healthcare sector, in schools and in government buildings, or even in retail and sales, there is no industry that is unaffected, with acts of violence and other disruptive behavior remaining a concern for all types of business—and one that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
However, with the right preparation and planning, you can prevent or mitigate violent incidents in any setting, improving workplace safety and security procedures so that you can improve peace of mind for both employees and customers. One way to do this is to implement a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVP).
We recently teamed up with a hotel chain that was eager to enhance its safety measures. After integrating our panic buttons, they incorporated this tech into their overall Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. The staff felt more at ease, knowing that they had a quick way to get help if they needed it.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the benefits of a WVP and some best practices to follow when implementing one. Read on to learn more.
The Disturbing Rise in Workplace Violence
In a wide-ranging study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) between 1992 and 2019, the disturbing rise of verbal abuse, threats of violence and physical assaults, was clear to see. In fact, between 2015 and 2019, there was a staggering 25% increase in nonfatal incidents of workplace violence, accounting for 9.2 violent crimes per 1000 workers.
In addition to these stats, as highlighted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is estimated that some 2 million Americans are the victims of workplace violence every year, with a higher risk for workers who exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; or work alone or in small groups. Protecting these employees and others is highly important for any type of business and something that requires organization and preparation.
Legislation relating to the healthcare industry that targets this type of workplace violence has recently been passed in Texas, however, while legislation is one step in the right direction, it alone cannot hope to stem the rise of workplace violence. In order to do this, businesses and organizations should prepare a Workplace Violence Prevention Program and examine their existing threat assessment and prevention strategies.
A Workplace Violence Prevention Plan Can Improve Safety
Regardless of state law, any business looking to improve safety and security can benefit from a WVP plan. In addition, a comprehensive plan will allow you to comply with the OSHA Duty of Care Act, as well as prepare your business for any future legislation that may be passed in the state your business operates.
A WVP plan does this by helping your business to:
- Demonstrate a commitment to preventing workplace violence and improving working conditions, making the workplace safer for all users.
- Implement a risk assessment roadmap to identify potential sources of violent behavior, addressing the specific risks faced by different departments or roles within the organization.
- Enable faster response times to incidents as they are happening, implementing clear guidance for teams or individuals who deal with violence in the workplace, particularly lone workers.
- Provide ongoing support for those involved in incidents, helping to mitigate any long-term emotional or physical impact of such incidents.
- Ensure data and information collected from incidents are used to improve future responses, ensuring your WVP is updated in line with the specific challenges faced by your organization.
Taken together, these elements provide tangible improvements to employee safety, ensuring staff feel supported before, during, and after incidents take place. Additionally, as your WVP develops over time, you can expect to see further improvements as you incorporate lessons learned, as well as adjust your strategies in line with regulatory changes.
Best Practices for Building a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan
As with any kind of organizational policy, building on a set of best practices is a great way to start. Naturally, you will then need to develop certain areas of your plan to bring them in line with the unique requirements of your organization. So, to get you started, we compiled some basic concepts to consider when building your Workplace Violence Prevention plan.
Communication and Training
Regular training sessions should aim to educate employees about the importance of workplace safety, how to identify warning signs, and how to report incidents. In addition, open lines of communication between staff and management should look to build a culture of respect and understanding, removing potential barriers to incident reporting or alerts.
Risk Assessment Plan
A comprehensive risk assessment is the foundation of an effective WVP plan, identifying potential risk factors, such as high-stress roles, customer-facing positions, and isolated work environments. By understanding these risks, your organization can target specific areas where incidents are likely to take place and ensure adequate training is given to individuals and teams.
Emergency Response Procedures
Clear emergency response procedures that outline how to act in the event of a violent incident are crucial. This includes evacuation routes, lockdown procedures, and communication protocols, as well as how staff, security, and management should deal with the aftermath of an incident.
Wireless Panic Buttons
Implementation of 911 Panic buttons can be used effectively as part of your WVP plan, not only providing a reliable and immediate alert when an incident is taking place but also increasing the peace of mind of staff members – providing an instant link to emergency services.
Establish relationships with local law enforcement and relevant agencies in your area, particularly if your business is at high risk of extreme incidents. These connections can ensure a swift and effective response from local agencies who will already have knowledge of the specific challenges faced by your business.
Provide access to support services, such as an employee assistance program (EAP) or counseling for employees who have experienced or witnessed workplace violence. This can mitigate the long-term physical or emotional impact of such incidents, while simultaneously increasing peace of mind for staff who will know they can count on your support.
We helped a multi-unit massage therapy chain install our panic button technology after they had some safety incidents. Later, they told us that combining our system with their own EAP made a big difference. Not only did their staff feel safer, but fewer people quit their jobs because they felt the company was looking out for them.
Updates and Reviews
Workplace dynamics and risk factors can change over time, so it’s essential to regularly review and update the WVP plan to incorporate lessons learned from incident reports. In addition, regular updates to your WVP will allow you to stay up to date with regulatory changes, adjusting your protocols as necessary.
Bonus resource for healthcare facilities: Check out the Crisis Prevention Institute’s Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook for a thorough and practical guide geared towards the complexity and care needed to mitigate workplace violence within healthcare.
There is no single solution to preventing workplace violence, rather a combination of proactive measures, ongoing training, and the introduction of preventative technologies such as panic buttons. However, by acknowledging workplace violence and its potential impact, organizations can take a big step towards creating a safer and more secure worksite for their employees.
Every organization is unique, with its own set of challenges, and so the best practices outlined in this article should be tailored to fit the specific needs and circumstances of each workplace. Remember, a Workplace Violence Prevention plan is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment to safety and well-being.