Making the Case for a Workplace Violence Prevention Program
Many HR Directors and Security professionals are asked by their CEO’s “Why do we a need a workplace violence prevention program? How do we justify the cost of policy development, training and security improvements? Besides, nothing will happen here.”
It’s not surprising that the cost of implementing these types of programs would raise questions, especially in light of the idea that you are preparing for an event that may never happen, such as an active shooter.
In reality, most workplaces can expect to be affected at some point by lower level acts of workplace violence like bullying, fistfights, sabotage or threatening behaviors; and while these are seemingly less severe than an active shooter event, there are nonetheless serious financials risks that the organization could face in the aftermath.
There has been a great deal of data gathered and studied in the years since incidents of violence in the workplace became more commonplace. The statistics are noteworthy, and the affiliated costs are surprising. We have compiled some of this impactful data into a Fact Sheet, available here for viewing and download.
One can say that a workplace violence prevention program provides protection similar to insurance. You may (hopefully!) never need it, but if a worst-case scenario happens, the insurance you have in place can mitigate financial risks to your organization.
Following are a couple of the most common types of financial risks that organizations can encounter after experiencing some type of serious workplace violence incident.
OSHA Citations and Fines
Should a violent event occur, having established policies and procedures for violence prevention (especially if they were followed) will help an organization defend itself during any investigations conducted by OSHA. Under the General Duty Clause for OSHA, in the event of a violent incident in the workplace, an investigation will occur to determine whether or not a foreseeable threat was evident, and if there were programs and policies in place to respond to and mitigate the threat, even if the violent event did ultimately occur. Failure to properly prepare for a “foreseeable” threat can result in a citation, which can be costly to the organization, with fines sometimes running into the millions.
Complaints and Litigation
Legally and organizationally sound workplace violence prevention policies and procedures that address the criteria set forth in the American National Standard on Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention (published by ASIS and SHRS, 2011) provide a structure for responding to threats and potentially preventing acts of violence in the workplace.
Bullying, fist fights, and other problematic behaviors are statistically far more likely to occur in a workplace than the “active shooter” scenarios that tend to dominate the headlines. Solid policies and procedures provide a clear pathway for preventing and responding to these events in the workplace.
Additionally, a strong and consistently applied workplace violence prevention program makes it easier to defend complaints against disciplinary actions and litigation initiated by employee victims of dangerous and threatening employee behaviors.
A Positive Outcome
Finally, you are sending the message that your employees’ safety is paramount, and that threats and acts of violence in the workplace will not be tolerated. And if they do occur, they will be investigated and responded to promptly, and in accordance with organizational policy, procedure and where applicable, appropriate legal statutes.
Taking such a stance goes a long way in creating a culture of safety. And when people feel safe, they are more productive, focused and loyal to the organization, which can directly and positively impact the bottom line of the business.
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of the benefits of a good workplace violence prevention program, it does provide a starting point for discussing benefits of implementing such a program. Hopefully these points can help you move your organization from discussion to planning – which is key in both the prevention and intervention of workplace violence events.