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VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE Deer Oaks Mental Health Associates.

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1 VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE Deer Oaks Mental Health Associates

2 Why is this particular training segment necessary?  V iolence in the workplace is a growing, serious threat.  Homicide in the workplace is the fastest growing form of murder in the United States today.  Workplace violence was the second leading cause of occupational death of men and the leading cause of death for women under 18.  Non-fatal workplace assaults result in a significant loss of productivity.  It is crucial to recognize early warning signs.

3 Defining Workplace Violence 1 Workplace Violence consists of more than just physical assault. It refers to any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment, including:  Threatening behaviour - such as shaking fists, destroying property or throwing objects.  Verbal or written threats - any expression of an intent to inflict harm.  Verbal abuse - swearing, insults or condescending language.  Physical attacks - hitting, shoving, pushing or kicking.

4 Defining Workplace Violence 2 Workplace Violence also includes:  Harassment - any behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person and that is known or would be expected to be unwelcome. This includes words, gestures, intimidation, bullying, or other inappropriate activities.  Rumours, swearing, pranks, arguments, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, theft, psychological trauma, anger- related incidents, rape, arson and murder are also examples of workplace violence.

5 Defining Workplace Violence 3 The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as: “A physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting.”

6 Why Prevention is Important - The only acceptable strategy for dealing with this problem is the proactive strategy of prevention. - The human and financial costs of workplace violence are so steep that preventing it from happening in the first place should be a major priority for managers at all levels. - The bottom line of this particular training session can be summarized as follows --

7 Bottom Line… Don’t Wait for Violence To Occur: PREVENT IT!

8 Training Objectives 1. Identify potential warning signs. 2. Know what to do in violent situations. 3. Develop key strategies for prevention.

9 1. Identifying Early Warning Signs   Any significant change in behavior or attitude   Odd, bizarre, offensive, or unusual behavior   Threatening behavior (verbal or non-verbal)   Hostile or degrading remarks   Actual threats to do physical harm   Shoving and pushing; bullying and browbeating   Sexual or non-sexual harassment   Destruction of property   Display or use of weapons   Stalking

10 Who may be at risk? Anyone may be at risk for workplace violence. But the risk is greater for those whose job requires them to deal with the public and/or to handle money, such as: Government Workers Convenience Store Operators Social Services Personnel Law Firm Personnel Police Officers Prison Guards Teachers Persons Associated with Women’s Shelters

11 “Ticking Bomb” Profile of the “Ticking Bomb”   A potentially dangerous employee projects all the responsibility for his or her anxiety to the employing agency & the people associated with it.   May be suffering from mental illness.   The “Ticking Bomb” goes through a period of internal conflict which may last from a few hours to several months.  violence as the only available alternative.  Eventually the person decides on violence as the only available alternative.  Then the bomb explodes – sometimes destroying others as well as him/herself in the process.

12 “Violent Offender” Profile of The “Violent Offender”  Usually a white male, aged 30-40  Has lost, or soon to lose job  Identity usually tied to the job  History of “people problems”  Usually a loner  Difficulty accepting authority  Blames others for his/her problems  Recent and significant changes in behavior  Possible drug/alcohol abuse problem

13 “Violent Offender” The “Violent Offender” (cont’d)   Threatens employees/supervisors   Fascination with weaponry   History of depression, paranoia, violence   Talks about past incidents of violence   Works for a company with an authoritarian style of management   Statements indicating identification with perpetrators of workplace homicide

14 More Early Warning Signs

15 Levels of Violence “1st Level”   Individual refuses to cooperate with immediate supervisor   Spreads rumors and gossip to harm others   Consistently argues with co-workers   Belligerent toward customers   Constantly swears at others   Makes unwanted sexual comments

16 Levels of Violence “2nd Level”  Argues increasingly with everybody  Refuses to obey company policies  Sabotages/steals property for revenge  Communicates threats – directly or indirectly  Writes violent notes to co-workers  Becomes sexually inappropriate with co- workers  Sees self as a “victim”

17 Levels of Violence “3rd Level”  Suicidal threats  Physical fights  Destruction of property  Use of weapons  Commits murder, rape, and/or arson Frequent displays of anger resulting in:

18 2. What to do In Violent Situations

19 If you notice early warning signs… 1. 1. Closely observe and document the behavior. 2. 2. If you are reasonably certain there is a problem, immediately notify your supervisor of your concerns. 3. 3. Have the supervisor meet with the employee and discuss the situation. 4. 4. Consult with your senior management. 5. 5. Contact the Police, if necessary.

20 If the situation escalates into violence Remain calm. It is difficult to think clearly and react helpfully when your stress level is too high. Remain calm. It is difficult to think clearly and react helpfully when your stress level is too high. Immediately contact the Police and supervisor. Immediately contact the Police and supervisor. As quickly as possible, make sure that yourself and other employees are safe. As quickly as possible, make sure that yourself and other employees are safe. Don’t try to be hero – your survival is more important to those who love you. Don’t try to be hero – your survival is more important to those who love you.

21 Coping with the Aftermath of Violence   Acknowledge truthfully the physical and emotional impact the incident has had on all employees.   Don’t minimize the impact of the event.   Some employees may require psychological counseling or support.   Plan for a debriefing of the event (CISD).   Schedule Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) between 24 and 72 hours post-incident for individuals experiencing trauma.

22 If the Unthinkable Occurs... o Crisis Intervention and Debriefing o Dealing with Law Enforcement and Media o Trauma Counseling for Employees o Employee Assistance Program o Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms Recognition o Preventing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Critical Incident Plan!

23 3. Important Strategies for Prevention

24 Define Policy of Prevention  Most important component of any workplace violence prevention program is management commitment.   Management commitment is best communicated in a written policy. The policy must: Be developed by management and employee representatives Define workplace violence in clear, precise language Provide clear examples of unacceptable behavior State management’s commitment to prevention of violence Encourage reporting of all incidents of violence Assure employee confidentiality of reporting Outline procedures for investigation and resolution.

25 What Can You Do About It?   Train employees to observe/report   Employees must be aware of and pay attention to early warning signs   Nail down reporting procedures   Employees should be commended, not punished for reporting possible dangers   Conduct thorough pre-employment background investigations of all potential employees   Interview subject (if necessary)

26 If you identify a Potentially Violent Employee, what should you do? The action you take will depend upon the facts of the situation. Options for potentially violent employees include: Referral for professional counseling Referral for professional counseling Referral to the company’s Employee Assistance Program Referral to the company’s Employee Assistance Program Appropriate Disciplinary Action Appropriate Disciplinary Action Notify Police Notify Police


28 Caution ! n Approach this area with a great deal of sensitivity. n A “siege” mentality and employee morale problem can develop quickly if arbitrary accusations of “potential” violence are made. n Unfounded accusations of this nature can ruin careers and destroy reputations.

29 CAVEAT Be fair! Be fair! Be discreet! Be discreet! Be low key! Be low key! Don’t overreact! Don’t overreact! Avoid racial stereotyping! Avoid racial stereotyping! Be aware of effect on workplace morale! Be aware of effect on workplace morale! NO WITCH HUNTS! NO WITCH HUNTS!


31 CONGRATULATIONS!!! You now have a better understanding of dealing with potential issues associated with violence in the workplace. Good luck! Deer Oaks EAP Services... A resource you can trust.

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