FacilityCare Magazine

May/June 2012

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SAFETY AND SECURITY ZONE include threats of assault, harassment, intim- idation or bullying. So the Department's clas- sifications of workplace violence situations apply pretty well universally: • Criminal: The perpetrator has no legiti- mate relationship to the workplace or its employees and essentially is committing a crime in conjunction with the violence (i.e., robbery). • Customer or Client: The perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served (i.e., customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, etc.). • Co-Worker: The perpetrator is an employ- ee or past employee of the business and attacks or threatens another employee. • Domestic Violence: The perpetrator, who has no legitimate relationship with the business but has a relationship with the intended victim, threatens or assaults the intended victim at the workplace. Warren points out that while patient-on- staff incidents constitute the leading category of violence in healthcare facilities, the sites are not immune from the other categories, such as employee vs. employee violence. He notes the recent instance of an employee at a Connecticut hospital who shot two of his supervisors after a disciplinary incident. The hospital went into lockdown for a period of time after the incident. Warren cites the annual Crime Survey conducted among members of IAHSS as providing helpful benchmarks regarding the nature and trends of criminal and violent incidents such as these. Some types of risks of workplace violence appear to be less industry specific. Domestic violence often rears its ugly head, regardless of the sector or venue. As NIOSH points out on its website, one out of every four American women report physical abuse by an intimate partner sometime in their lifetime: "Domestic violence doesn't stay home when its victims go to work. It can fol- low them to the workplace…[it] includes all types of behavior that affect a person's ability to perform a job." NIOSH concludes that it's a certainty that in any mid- to large-sized company, domestic violence is affecting its employees. Richard Sem, CPP CSC, president of Sem Security Management in Lake Geneva, Wis., agrees. Sem, whose business provides securi- ty and workplace violence consultations to companies in the manufacturing industry, among others, points out that because manu- MAY/JUNE 2012 " " facturers don't deal directly with the public as much, they don't face the same violence exposure and liabilities resulting from out- side visitors and customers as, say, a health- care institution. On the other hand, he says, manufacturers do face a very real risk of cer- tain categories of workplace violence, espe- cially worker-on-worker (co-worker catego- ry) and domestic spillover (domestic vio- lence). What these examples from three disparate industries share, along with the risk of workplace violence, is recognition of the impor- tance of having a com- prehensive, clearly com- municated plan in place to deal with it. Sem advocates that manufacturers put in place a detailed workplace violence program including the elements of prevention, mitiga- tion, response and recovery. Much of what he advises mirrors the recommendations regard- ing prevention programs for the healthcare industry. In designing such a program, both Sem and Warren urge employers to train their employees to recognize the warning signs of violence, including potential spillover of domestic violence, and to include violence as part of their emergency and crisis plans. Procedural and physical security measures should be reassessed to ensure they address true risks and vulnerabilities. This should include a threat management process to plan for safely managing problematic triggering events such as layoffs and terminations. Developing a working liaison with local law enforcement officials in advance of any inci- dent can pay big dividends in responsiveness, as does having a plan – communicated in advance – to keep people safe during worst case scenarios. In a third sector, that of education, the risks of violence are more in the nature of the customer or client category, as detailed above. Violence finds its way into the schools through student-on-student forms of harass- ment; bullying and minor assaults; and in rare instances, serious assaults and homicide. According to Larry Borland, president of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials, creating a place where children feel welcomed, respected and loved has the effect of creating trust between adults and children, and where there is trust, there is communication. Borland emphasizes the importance of cre- ating a positive school environment where bullying, harassment and violence will not be tolerated. This requires that students feel comfortable in bringing situations to the attention of a trusted adult who will then act upon the information. Says Borland, "After almost 20 years in education security, I can say that the vast majority of weapons we find are because a student comes to a caring, trusted adult and tells them about their con- cern." He continues, "Similarly, if a student is acting strangely, making threats against him- self or others, it is almost always a student who brings the situation to the attention of an adult." Once the adult has the information, there must be clear guidelines about reporting and acting on the information. He cites the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, which allows for the sharing of information with law enforcement authorities for the pur- pose of preventing violence and keeping stu- dents safe. Guidelines should include actions to be taken to keep students safe and also to deal with the aftermath, including collecting witness statements, fair and firm discipline where called for, and providing the student with support services as needed. What these examples from three disparate industries share, along with the risk of work- place violence, is recognition of the impor- tance of having a comprehensive, clearly communicated plan in place to deal with it. This, they all agree, provides the best strategy to keep everyone safe – whether students at school, employees at a manufacturing plant, or patients in a hospital. And once you've adopted such a protocol, Warren advises, "Drill on the plan throughout the year. Make sure you have learned lessons, and that you've improved upon any weaknesses." F Amy Falk is president of Falk Associates. For more informa- tion about IAHSS, visit iahss.org. facilitycare.com FACILITYCARE | 13

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