How Awareness Training Could Prevent Workplace Violence

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Prevention of Workplace Violence (OSHA, 2006):
•    Awareness/Training
•    Threat Assessment
•    Long-Term Security
•    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
•    Employee Assistance Program


A critical aspect of any agency’s prevention program is the training. Training is important for employees and supervisors, staff in offices that could become involve in addressing incidents of workplace violence.

Participating in training sessions conducted by the agency’s Employee Assistance Program, security, conflict resolution, and employee relations staffs offer employees the opportunity to meet experts within the agency who can help when they are in the midst of situations that could turn violent.

All employees should be able to determine cases which manifest violent, intimidating, threatening, and disruptive behavior and report these incidents. All employees must be provided with phone numbers to be able to report quickly in cases of crises or emergency. To
be effective, training of employees on workplace violence prevention should cover a broad variety of subjects which include the following topics:

•    The policy of the agency on violence.
•    Encourage employees to report incidents and the proper steps to take in doing so
•    Methods of preventing or resolving possible violent situations or handling aggressive behavior
•    Ways to handle hostile persons
•    Anger management
•    Methods and competence to defuse conflicts
•    Effective strategies in coping with tress, relaxation techniques and wellness training
•    Security measures such as finding and using safety devices which include alarm systems
•    Personal safety measures
•    Programs within the agency that can help employees settle conflicts, such as the Employee Assistance Program, ombudspersons, alternative dispute resolution, and mediation

Aside from the above-mentioned training programs, general supervisory training should also be given due attention. Creating a healthy, productive workplace could lead to prevention of possible volatile situations. Supervisory positions therefore are important in providing a non-violent atmosphere in the workplace.

Supervisory training should include leadership skills such as formulating clear standards, swift action on employee problems, using probationary period, performance counseling, discipline and other management tools. Learning these skills or intervention can diffuse possible violent situations and prevent it from becoming full-blown problem.

Supervisors are not required to have expertise in resolving violent behavior but must at least be equip with the knowledge on which experts to approach and should be willing to listen to advice and ask for help from the experts.

Areas which should be included in the supervisory training are:

•    Encourage employees to report incidents in which they feel threatened for any reason by anyone inside or outside the organization.
•    Skills in showing compassion and support towards employees who report incidents
•    Skills in administering disciplinary actions
•    Fundamental skills in handling crisis situations
•    Fundamental emergency procedures, such as who to call and what support resources and services are on hand
•    Suitable screening of pre-employment references
•    Fundamental skills in resolving conflicts

Agency personnel who form part of the assessment and response teams need to have skills in the area they are assigned. They must also know when and who to call for outside assistance. Members should augment their knowledge by participating in programs and training sessions sponsored by government and professional organizations, reading professional journals and other literature, and networking with others in the profession they are representing. These are effective for team members to use in preparing to deal with workplace violence situations. In
some cases where participation on a team is a required duty, employees may require special supplemental training.

Team members must also understand each other’s professions to allow them to work together effectively. Assessment and response team training should consist of discussion of policies, legal constraints, technical vocabulary, and other considerations that each profession brings to the interdisciplinary group.


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