Stemming Workplace Violence

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Mitigating Workplace Violence
10/06/2012
Prepared by Jose A. Ortiz Jr. (CSS, CPS, PIS)
KHTMS Security Consultant
Jose.Ortiz@KHTMS.com

As a licensed security consultant I feel it necessary to bring to the attention of the powers that be, a growing trend of Workplace Violence (WPV). By being proactive on our behalf, and as a means to prevent such incidents from occurring, I offer some suggestions. Based on publications and suggestions from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, lectures from Gavin de Becker & Associates, The Center for Aggression Management, and presentations from Bob Duggan and others at Executive Security International, I feel it necessary to increase the security posture of any at risk organization with simple measures easily enacted to create a safer work environment.

As incidents of workplace violence continue to gain more and more media attention, and given the litigious society in which we live, I feel any organization with a large number of employees is vulnerable to such an event. This vulnerability comes from disenchanted employees within the organization, criminal elements of society in search of personal gain, terrorists and terror organizations which may identify the organization as a soft target to further their agendas, as well as spill over from an employee’s personal life. I believe a joint effort is necessary which should include; internal and contracted security personnel, the employees and management of an organization, and the various law enforcement and safety oriented organizations which are responsible for overseeing any workplace in question. First of all, I feel it is paramount for employees to take an active part in their own personal safety as well as those around them. Although some feel an incident of workplace violence would never happen in their workplace, plans still need to be in place to provide solutions and prepare them for the worst, without instilling a sense of fear of the workplace. Planning for the worst is like having insurance against the possibility of an incident; it protects personnel as well as the organization. As an example, most of our coworkers are in good health, yet the company offers health insurance, and though most of us who drive have never been nor will ever be in a car accident, we still maintain car insurance, so why should being proactive in security measures be any different? To accomplish this I suggest security upgrades including; Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), surveillance equipment and upgrades, trained and armed security personnel, a new safety program including training, and the formation of a Threat Working Group (TWG) to collect and analyze information as a means of being proactive in securing employees while on the premises.

I am sure many questions have come up already, and I will attempt to answer some of them. The purpose of all of this is to cause organizations to take a proactive approach to the prevention and mitigation of WPV as a result of violent perpetrators, first by helping securing the workplace, then by showing others how to make both their workplace and themselves “harder targets” for a violent attacker. Why consider such safety/security improvements? As a method to identify threats and risk factors, and show a reduction in threat and risk factors; by providing the ability to plan for contingencies. Why? Because it demonstrates an organizations concern for its employees, clients, visitors, and that the organization is not indifferent to their safety. Why be concerned about violence? Because violence is the product of three main factors: the individual who takes violent action, stimuli or triggering conditions, and the setting that allows for such actions by not preventing it.

Threats range from expressions of intent to harm to physical actions....
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