Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Beginning a Dialogue about Workplace Violence

Given recent events, I think it's wise to begin a dialogue about how to prevent workplace violence. Many workplaces have policies on everything from how to survive an earthquake to how to send email, but do not have any training in workplace violence prevention. This seems to be, and I'm hypothesizing, because of the prevalence of "it won't happen here." That seems like quite an assumption.

A typical training in workplace violence prevention might encompass these topics:

Explanation of the agency's workplace violence policy;
Encouragement to report incidents;
Ways of preventing or diffusing volatile situations or aggressive behavior;
How to deal with hostile persons;
Managing anger;
Techniques and skills to resolve conflicts;
Stress management, relaxation techniques, wellness training;
Security procedures, e.g., the location and operation of safety devices such as alarm systems;
Personal security measures; and
Programs operating within the agency that can assist employees in resolving conflicts, e.g., the Employee Assistance Program, the ombudsman, and mediation.

For more information, I suggest you read Dealing with Workplace Violence, a publication of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and Violence in the Workplace: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies, a publication of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.