Effectiveness in Workplace Violence Prevention

Q:        I've just been promoted and now I'm in charge of our Workplace Violence Prevention program, something I’m not familiar with. I’ve been asked to evaluate its effectiveness. How do I proceed?

A:        Your first step is to quickly familiarize yourself with the subject so that you can provide an accurate, understandable, and credible answer.

Based on the fact that you can’t find, and no one knows of, a workplace violence risk assessment or any other basis for the videos that you’ve subscribed to, it seems like there might not be a clear rationale behind the subscription to the training videos you've mentioned, perhaps prompted by a high-profile incident rather than a specific threat to your organization. Given there’s been no workplace violence incident reported at your company, you could prepare a thoughtful response.

Remember, the program isn't just a security department measure; it’s an organization-wide safeguard involving all employees. So, when discussing the program, you could express that you're actively searching for documentation that outlines the overall approach, highlighting that the videos should be just one component of a larger strategy.

Since that kind of response opens you up to questions about what such a strategy might be, and since you want to gain that understanding anyway, I recommend an educational step first. Your first place to look should not be the many articles and other material available online.

Before you wade through the vast amount of online content, consider these three key references to give you a comprehensive understanding of workplace violence prevention. At some point early in your review of such information, you’ll be informed enough to provide an initial answer.

I recommend three references in the order listed below, which will familiarize you with the key elements of workplace violence prevention progress over the past three decades. These three works remind me of a quote that is contained in the third reference below.

As Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld stated in their book, The Evolution of Physics, “Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, and discovering new connections between our starting point and its rich environment. But the point from which we started still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our way up.”

This is an apt description of the recent progress in many areas of business security practice, and in particular the understanding of crime and the lesser offenses that physical security practitioners must deal with. The three references are:

·         Workplace Violence: A Report to the Nation, by the Injury Prevention Research Center of the University of Iowa in 2001. This report is the result of the university’s Workplace Violence Intervention Research Workshop held in Washington, D.C. – convened to start addressing the growing problem. The research identified four types of workplace violence, and for the first time, organizations could start taking focused sensible action. Download the report here: https://downloads.regulations.gov/OSHA-2016-0014-0017/content.pdf

·         Workplace Violence Prevention and Your Organizational Success, by Bill Whitmore, former CEO of the AlliedBarton security services firm. This was a ground-breaking book in 2011 when it was published, intended for the upper business management audience. Violence in the workplace typically develops gradually and can be recognized as part of a spectrum of behavior, with numerous contributing factors and individuals involved. Understanding this spectrum makes it possible to take effective preventive measures relating to non-stranger violence. It was a big step forward in helping organizations calibrate their workplace violence prevention efforts for their specific situations. This book is a great value at $9.95 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Potential-Workplace-Violence-Prevention-Organizational-ebook/dp/B006YJNBE8/

·         Unraveled: An Evidence-Based Approach to Understanding and Preventing Crime, by Karim H. Vellani, President of Threat Analysis Group, LLC, an independent security consulting firm. Published in 2021, all the principles and practices described in this book are foundational for organizational security practice as well as for crime-fighting concerns on broader levels. This book is focused on evidence-based practices, and as such provides a rock-solid foundation for security practitioner thinking regarding threat analysis, risk assessment and mitigation planning.

As a security practitioner, your company needs you to have the kind of practical understanding Vellani provides in order to efficiently (especially regarding the use of your own time) and effectively (helped by applying evidence-based practices) tailor key elements of your security program to fit the actual risk profile of your organization and its facilities.

Vellani provides crystal-clear plain language definitions for terms that most security books glibly toss out as if “everyone knows.” A problem in the security industry today is that few people “know,” compared to the number of people who need to know and understand. Vellani demystifies the jargon by going beyond single-phrase definitions to provide the rationale behind them and examples of their use and application.

This book is a must-read for anyone with a security manager or above security responsibilities. I prefer the Kindle edition of this book because I can jump from the body of the text to the footnote references and back again so easily, as well as search through the book and get right back to where I was reading. The book is $73.99 online at Amazon and well worth 10 times that price:

Ray Bernard, PSP CHS-III, is the principal consultant for Ray Bernard Consulting Services (RBCS), a firm that provides security consulting services for public and private facilities (www.go-rbcs.com). In 2018 IFSEC Global listed Ray as #12 in the world’s Top 30 Security Thought Leaders. He is the author of the Elsevier book Security Technology Convergence Insights available on Amazon.Follow Ray on Twitter: @RayBernardRBCS.

© 2023 RBCS