Better To Be Prepared… Than Being Accused of Not Being Responsive To…
“Shhh… ! We don’t discuss this here. Besides, it will never happen..”
What am I alluding to, here? Workplace Violence.
Even though we are all familiar with the phrase “going postal,” does your agency have a formal, up-to-date, policy regarding this type of situation? How about a policy covering domestic violence that spills over into the workplace?
Or, simply an incident where verbal threats are made?
Hiding one’s head in the ground accomplishes very little toward meeting a goal of providing a safe work environment for employees. And, one would hope that government entities, regardless of size or scope, had a policy in place, along with appropriate reporting forms.
The FBI’s monograph, Workplace Violence, Issues In Response, states:
Mass murder on the job by disgruntled employees are media-intensive events. However, these mass murders, while serious, are relatively infrequent events. It is the threats, harassment, bullying, domestic violence, stalking, emotional abuse, intimidation, and other forms of behavior and physical violence that, if left unchecked, may result in more serious violent behavior. These are the behaviors that supervisors and managers have to deal with every day.
The U.S. Department of Labor in its document, DOL Workplace Violence Program, states that:
Every year, approximately two million people throughout the country are victims of non-fatal violence at the workplace. Officials at the Department of Justice have found violence to be a leading cause of fatal injuries at work with about 1,000 workplace homicides each year. Violence against employees occurs in a variety of circumstances and situations including: robberies and other crimes, actions by frustrated or dissatisfied clients and customers, acts perpetrated by disgruntled co-workers or former co-workers, and domestic incidents that spill over into the workplace.
One simply has to do a few, proper Google searches in order to realize that simply because we are the government, we still have a history of workplace turmoil and threats which have morphed into much more serious forms.
This is a partial list of states where government policies , state/municipal , regarding workplace violence exist: Pennsylvania — Connecticut — Nevada — Minnesota — Texas — Kentucky — New York State — Tennessee — Delaware — Ohio — New Jersey — Massachusetts — Rhode Island — Oklahoma — Oregon — Michigan –Indiana — Delaware — Maryland –Iowa — Mississippi.
Yet, as with too many areas in government, some of these policies were probably formulated years, perhaps even a decade or longer, ago. As a result, they might not cover such areas as cyber-bullying, domestic violence, or active shooter. – And, while I think of ‘active shooter’, realize that a keyboard, chair, knife, or briefcase can cause bodily injury.
Stalking while perhaps overly-dramatized by network TV is a very real and serious problem for some employees.
Cyber-bullying that follows a worker, ‘everywhere’, and could damage/destroy their reputation with false information, is a very real threat, in this day and age.
Where memories are a vital part of any reporting of incidents, they are not always reliable, especially with the passage of time… Having detailed reporting instruments could prove vital to preventing harm to you and your co-workers.
Although I could continue on here for a while, I hope that you will check with your agency’s HR department to see where things are, right now, in terms of a workplace violence policy and related reporting forms.
Help to convince those in authority that it is a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ something serious were to happen. And, that it is better to be prepared ahead of time, rather than have to explain why nothing official had been done/maintained/kept up-to-date.
Russell A. Irving is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.