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Effective Workplace Violence Prevention: It's Training, Training, Training

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When it comes to an effective workplace violence prevention program, it's Training, Training, Training

Remember that old saying about real estate? When it comes to what really matters for real estate it’s: Location, Location, Location.

Well, in a way, the same can be said about an effective workplace violence prevention program. Only instead of location it’s: Training, Training, Training.

And California’s new workplace violence prevention law understands that. California requires employers to train employees in:

Workplace violence hazards specific to the employees’ jobs, the corrective measures the employer has implemented, how to seek assistance to prevent or respond to violence, and strategies to avoid physical harm.

 In this piece, I discuss what this means.

I learned about violence, its causes, and its prevention during my 30 years of conducting civil and criminal litigation investigations holding employers and others accountable following significant incidents of violence. I also conducted third-party internal fact-finding investigations into workplace violence, threats, and harassment. And through having to keep myself safe while working frequently in some very dangerous environments.

Get started working on your workplace violence prevention plan today by downloading my free CA workplace violence prevention checklist.

Workplace Violence Hazards Specific to Your Employees’ Jobs

Employers must assess the specific types of workplace violence hazards your employees face. This is best done through a mix of surveying or interviewing employees, evaluating the locations where your employees work, understanding the four different source types of workplace violence, and reviewing any data developed from prior incidents and near misses.

Information is a tool. To be beneficial you must put it to use.

Training employees in the workplace violence hazards that are specific to their jobs must focus on ensuring that your employees understand the specific types of risks they face, and to recognize the way those risks manifest themselves.

The main focus for this type of training is to help them identify and recognize safety hazards before they become an actual threat. This is really about taking the information your learned through the assessment process and conveying it to your employees in a way that ensures they can apply it day to day.

Corrective Measures You Have Implemented to Address Your Employees’ Safety Hazards

Once you have conducted the safety assessments of the workplace violence hazards your employees face, it’s not enough to help them identify them, you have to remediate them too.

You have to train them in the approaches that you have developed to lessen their safety hazards. For example, implementing using the buddy system, for an employee facing a domestic violence situation to safety walk back and forth from the employee parking lot.

It’s not enough just to have the buddy system. Your employees need to know the steps to utilize that approach. Such as steps to take upon arriving at work, and in preparation for leaving during lunch, or at the end of the day. She must know who to contact, how to contact them, and how to use the buddy system safely while going to and from the parking lot.

If your employees work in client’s homes, or businesses, you’ll have to assess the safety hazards, and train them in ways to lessen the risk from those hazards.

How to Seek Assistance to Prevent or Respond to Violence

Whether it’s going to HR, a business owner, an incident response team, or to law enforcement, employers must train employees in who to contact, when a situation is heading towards violence, or an incident of violence has occurred. 

It can also include training in how to use codewords and other communication processes to alert co-workers to an impending safety threat.

Training them in who and how to contact those who can provide assistance will depend upon the source of the violence, and also where an employee works. 

An employee working in the community will need to respond in a different manner than an employee at your main business location.

And this training needs to apply to not just the employees facing the risk of violence. You must also train employees that witness incidents that can escalate into violence, or an incident of workplace violence, on who and how to seek assistance.

Strategies to Avoid Physical Harm

Unlike other aspects of the new workplace violence prevention law, California provides no specifics on what types of training it requires when it comes to training employees in strategies to avoid physical harm from workplace violence.

These strategies are left up to the employer to determine. Those determination should be based upon the source types of workplace violence hazards, the type of work the employees do, and where the employees are working when they might encounter a safety threat.

In general, such strategies can range from how to avoid a person who may pose a safety threat, to de-escalating an incident before it spirals into violence, to changing the dynamics of an attack at the onset, to self-defense and defense of others, should all the other approaches have failed.

California’s goal with this type of training is to prevent physical harm to your employees in every way possible. And that, in the end, is what workplace violence prevention is all about.

Need help with developing and implementing your workplace violence prevention plan. Send me an email at [email protected].

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