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Four Questions to Ask Yourself about Workplace Violence

If you’re like most businesses, you are not 100% certain in your level of preparedness for violent acts taking place on or near your premises. The recent attacks in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu have renewed discussions about how to prepare for and limit the potential harm to human life when acts of violence occur. While it is unfortunately very difficult to predict violent behavior, a well-planned, practiced, and executed crisis management plan can save lives.

Whether an act of terror or workplace violence caused by a stranger, customer or employee, businesses need to be prepared on how to respond. Four key questions that all businesses and organizations should ask include:

  • What have we done to educate our employees and equip them to respond to violent workplace events? 
  • Are our employees comfortable raising concerns about threatening situations to management? 
  • Have we honestly assessed our existing security measures and their effectiveness? 
  • Do we have an effective Crisis Management Plan in place, and a competent team to implement it? 

Developing an action plan does not have to be a complicated process. Start by initiating a conversation with staff about their safety concerns and then follow these four key steps:

1. Form a crisis management team and establish a plan.

2. Perform risk and vulnerability assessment on a regular basis.

  • Identify methods to mitigate identified risks.
  • Limit access on your premises to visitors who have a valid business reason to be there.
  • Implement measures to prevent access, and alarm of potential security breaches.

3. Develop policies and procedures to protect all parties. 

  • Use criminal background checks and behavioral screening as part of the hiring process.
  • Make sure there is prompt reporting and investigation of all potential incidents and actual events, including threats of violence. 
  • Promote a zero tolerance policy toward workplace violence and do not hesitate to file charges as appropriate. 

4. Conduct workplace violence training for staff so they learn the skills and strategies needed to recognize potentially hazardous situations, understand emergency procedures, and defuse hostile behavior from customers or fellow employees.

5. Develop a relationship with local police and other businesses in your area.

If you need assistance in developing and implementing a crisis management plan, contact a HUB Risk Consultant today. They have extensive experience in security and emergency management, and can tailor a plan for your specific needs.

Finally, visit HUB International's new Crisis Management Center to subscribe to timely risk communications in the form of checklists, tools, articles and on-demand webinars.