Workplace Violence: Plan, Prevent, Protect

September 17, 2019 3:56 pm

It is a sad and unfortunate reality in our world today that a violent incident could happen in the workplace at any time. The idea of preparing for an active shooter or similar situation may feel overwhelming, but avoidance will only result in greater fear and confusion. Below are general suggestions for creating a workplace violence program. Your thoughtful preparation, employee training, and partnering with outside experts could literally save lives in the event of an emergency.


  • Develop a Workplace Violence Policy that clearly defines unacceptable behavior, requires timely reporting of suspected violations, and describes how concerns will be investigated and resolved. The policy should include guidelines for reporting domestic violence matters and personal restraining orders. It should also guarantee privacy and non-retaliation for employees who make good-faith reports.
  • Establish a Threat Management Team to take the lead on investigations and coordinate incident response, if needed. Team members could include Human Resources, legal counsel, and other employees who could effectively respond to a concern or security event.
  • Establish training plans for all managers and employees regarding your company policy, how to report concerns, and how each person should respond in an emergency situation. Members of management should receive additional training to recognize warning signs and mediate employee disputes.


  • Consider offering an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) to make a wide variety of health and wellness resources available to your staff. Employees who have exhibited concerning behaviors may be referred to the EAP for confidential counseling.
  • Respond immediately and effectively to signs of problematic behavior or concerns expressed by employees. There is no “profile” to identify likely perpetrators of workplace violence, so management must take all situations seriously. Request the assistance of a workplace violence consultant to support an investigation and recommend appropriate action, when needed.
  • Ensure prompt disciplinary action and security follow-up when an employee’s behavior is severe or does not improve. A leave of absence, suspension, or termination may be appropriate depending on the circumstances.
  • Take necessary steps to protect employees who are victims of domestic violence as well as other staff members who may encounter the alleged abuser. This may include securing a temporary restraining order or discreetly posting a photo of the aggressor in locations with public access.


  • In the event of a workplace violence emergency, the Threat Management Team and/or security staff should implement your pre-determined response plan. Call 9-1-1 immediately but recognize that actions taken by on-site personnel will have significant impact on the outcome of the situation.
  • Move employees to a safer location, and prevent the attacker from moving to other areas of the building whenever possible.
  • Account for all personnel and determine any who may still need help.
  • Administer first aid to injured employees, if this can be done without placing victims or rescuers in further danger.
  • Comply with emergency responders’ instructions.

Contact legal counsel, safety experts, or a workplace violence consultant for additional information, training, and support for your workplace violence prevention program.

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