Workplace Violence Prevention Policy


Violence policy and procedure
Establish a written violence policy. Distribute a copy to each employee and require a signed memo of receipt and understanding. Send messages through email and voice mail; post the policy on bulletin boards and in the employee handbook.

Crisis team
In response to a serious workplace incident, Polaroid Corp. set up a workplace violence program. Following are components of that program along with several other steps recommended by violence prevention experts:

Metal detectors
Most security experts suggest that employers at risk should install metal detectors. They are annoying and slow the pace of getting into the facility, but most workplaces become accustomed to them.

The choice really depends upon the workplace. For example, many hospitals have installed metal detectors, because a major part of workplace violence occurs at health care and social services workplaces. Schools, unfortunately, are beginning to use metal detectors for protection of students and employees. Retail stores, although they are often visited by violence associated with robbery, have not yet succumbed to detectors because they impede shoppers. Metal detectors are not cheap to purchase or administer (at least one and probably more employees are necessary to make them work properly) but they may turn out to provide a big savings in lives, morale, and money.

Security guards
Depending upon the size of the business, many employers these days have at least one security guard.

Provide training
Train supervisors to address problems promptly and to never ignore an employee's violent behavior; supervisors should always discuss it right away with the individual. Teach supervisors to defuse conflicts, calm tempers, probe for workplace grievances or personal problems, and encourage employees to talk about them. Train employees in conflict resolution and stress management.

Facility security
Install bright lighting, panic buttons, and curved mirrors at hallway intersections. Ensure that there are several exits, some of which may be locked from the outside, not from the inside.

Visitor sign-in; badge
Identify workers and visitors at the workplace. Have visitors sign in upon entering, and after they have been vouched for by the employee they have come to see, issue them visitor badges. When they exit, make sure the visitor's ID badge is turned in.

ID badges or cards
Just about all large and many medium-sized companies require employees to wear or carry photo identification badges or cards. Workers should be issued permanent ID badges (make them a different color or shape from those for visitors). These may serve several purposes. Sometimes badges are used strictly for identification within a facility, for example, while others can be placed in computer terminals to open doors to the work facility itself, or to controlled-access areas. If there is a security guard at the building, he or she should always insist upon viewing the ID badge even if the person is well-known or an executive. Management will have to (and should) insist upon this policy being followed; it could prevent a very bad situation.

Some employees find ID badges annoying, particularly those used for entry but they are, obviously, extremely useful.

A few states are beginning to pass laws holding employers responsible for the development and implementation of employee protection plans. Washington state just passed such a plan, requiring that health care facilities provide violence prevention training duties to employees, keep records of violent acts occurring on the premises, and set policy and rules for workplace violence. Other states are considering such statutes.
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