What are the key components of a workplace violence prevention program?

Author: Julie H. Cox

Consulting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Violence Prevention Program Guidelines is a great start for an employer setting up a prevention program. The employer violence policy needs to start with identifying and communicating with employees what behavior is not tolerated and should include a way for employees to report incidents. Employees, managers, clients and even visitors need to be aware of the zero tolerance policy for violent behaviors. The policy needs to encourage the reporting of incidents and include a way to report to, and receive support from, law enforcement officials.

Preemployment screening needs to be instilled in the hiring policy, including well-worded interview questions and forms, thorough background checks, reference checks and drug testing. Other experts in the HR and legal departments can help devise questionnaires and processes that are most effective in the screening process.

Security for the workplace will depend on the type of workplace, but may require ID badges, codes to achieve access to certain places and the use of security officers or simply setting up arrangements with local law enforcement to ensure they are aware of the facility's location in the event of a true emergency.

Initial briefing of all employees about violence prevention policies should be relayed in a required meeting. All shifts should be required to attend the briefing so that all are aware of the employer's efforts towards violence prevention. Designated employees may be chosen to learn more about violence prevention and take charge of setting up awareness in the workplace.

A mediator may be designated in the organization or in each department in larger companies. A mediator is trained in methods of handling disputes objectively in an attempt to resolve conflict and prevent more aggravated encounters.