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Workplace Violence: Six Things Every Organization Should Consider

Communication is the most important part of your business continuity plan.
Category - Uncategorized
by Lisa Eifert on May 9th, 2016

We’ve established that workplace violence is a very real issue facing society today. We’ve also covered the importance of forming a crisis management team while providing guidelines for establishing one within your organization. Next up in our “Workplace Violence” blog series? Highlighting a few critical steps involved in formulating an effective response to workplace violence incidences. Let’s count down six things all organizations should consider as part of their comprehensive emergency action plans.

1. Know who is where and when.

You can’t protect your employees if you don’t know where they are. Developing a system which lets you know who is in the building at all times enhances accountability in the event of an unexpected emergency situation.

2. Create evacuation and shelter-in-place plans.

In some cases, evacuation is the best course of action. In others, remaining indoors offers a better form of refuge. Depending on the specifics of the situation, your crisis management team will play a vital role in determining which is the best scenario. However, because this decision will likely be made on-the-fly, it’s essential to have a firm plan for both scenarios in place long before the actual emergency situation arises.

Critical utility and emergency routes—including at least two ways in and out of the facility from varying locations throughout your building—should be established and made available to employees. These plans should also take into account people with disabilities, such as hearing impairment, which may inhibit their ability to understanding broadcast warning systems. Reaching non-English speaking individuals should also be taken into account.

3. Designate a safe assembly point.

Where will your employees go once the authorities have deemed it safe to evacuate? Making sure everyone gets safely out of the building is only one part of the evacuation process. Police usually will not let anyone leave the area until the situation is completely under control and all witnesses have been identified and questioned. Establishing a predetermined assembly point along with an organized check-in process upon arrival ensures that employees are both accounted for and available to receive future instructions.

4. Prepare for medical emergencies.

OSHA requires that two main standards be met for medical emergency preparedness: the “Access to Medical Care” standard and the “Bloodborne Pathogen” standard. Unfortunately, both of these issues can quickly become relevant in the event of a workplace shooting or terrorist act.

“Access to Medical Care” means having adequate first aid supplies as well as fulfilling basic staff training requirements.  The “Bloodborne Pathogen” standard, meanwhile, involves a combination of training and vaccinations.

Routinely conducting medical emergency audits helps ensure that your organization is properly trained and equipped at all times to meet both of these standards.

5. Document, Document, Document

Can you really expect all of your employees to remember the specifics of your emergency communication plan under pressure or duress? Taking the time to document everything is not only valuable at the moment of a crisis, but also an important part of preparing all employees in advance, as well as reviewing what worked and what didn’t work following drills and real-life events.

Make sure all employees have reviewed the plan and fully understand emergency procedures. Additionally, keep a copy of the plan in an accessible location and/or provide each employee with their own copy.

Your organization is not static; nor should your emergency action plan be. Lastly, review the plan regularly to make sure it’s current and comprehensive.

6. Communication Matters

Even the most careful plans are meaningless without the proper communication strategies in place to see them through. Unfortunately, this is not as clear-cut a matter as it might have been 50, 25 or even 10 years ago. Why? Because not only do different individuals have different habits and personal preferences, but they also have more options than ever now due to the many available channels of communication.

The best way to reach everyone? Meet them where they are. Determining the most effective way to communicate emergency information in the event that violence occurs in your workplace is a critical part of ensuring optimal outcomes. Which brings us to the upcoming and final segment of our “Workplace Violence” series: best practices for crisis communication.