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Plan Program to Prevent Workplace Violence

Dear HR Doctor,

My county's HR director is recommending a "workplace violence" program. What does that mean? Is there really a serious problem here? Can't law enforcement manage this?




Dear "Skeptical,"

Preventing workplace violence is the business of every employer and every local government. It's not enough to rely on an effective "911" response. Your human resources director is doing the right thing by trying to rally support for a prevention program. Here's why.

There were an estimated one million acts of violence in America's workplaces last year. Government employees are especially vulnerable since they either operate accessible, open programs or are involved in unpopular enforcement activities. While no one, including law enforcement, can guarantee a person's security at work, an employer can do many things to prevent most situations in which violence or threats of violence are possible outcomes.

Here are some tips:

While these messages are now common in airports and courthouses, the need for posting notices in other facilities such as hospitals, clinics, libraries, schools, and administration buildings should not be neglected. Employees also need to understand that county property such as the trunk of a county car or a desk is subject to search if managers believe they may contain inappropriate items such as weapons.

In case you aren't already convinced that a prevention/intervention program is a good idea, here's one more thing to think about.

One of the characteristics in the profile of a typical perpetrator of workplace violence is the fact that the person had a history of inappropriate comments or behavior at work.

The HR Doctor believes that there is a link between inappropriate behaviors related to sexual harassment and race and gender discrimination, domestic violence, and workplace violence. By paying attention to one of these areas, the county is investing in the reduction of liabilities in all of these areas.

Contact the HR Doctor for a sample of how the Broward County program works. I'll be glad to respond or even make a "house call" if I can help. Also, be on the lookout for future NACo workshops on this important subject!

Best wishes,

The HR Doctor

(The HR Doctor was written by Phil Rosenberg, director of Human Resources, Broward County, Fla.)

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