Proaction for addressing risks and reducing them to ALARP (as low as reasonably practical/possible) is what we, as Safety Professionals, constantly aim to achieve. So why is Workplace Violence so different? We typically gather facts, analyze the data, identify areas of need, and then put effort and action into risk reduction plans. We utilize a hierarchy of controls, implement the controls, and strive to continually improve upon the plan of action. When it comes to Workplace Violence, this sequence of action is no less effective. A team approach, both internally and externally, is necessary to reduce your risk to your employees, your customers, your organization's reputation, your liability, and your peace of mind.
ThE author has worked with both governments and private industries on this topic. Having facts and implementing solid plans is the key to addressing this menacing issue. Getting organizations to remember and apply best practices in safety management is a challenging, but necessary, step for all involved to address this destructive emotional and economic drain on our society.
When the topic of Workplace Violence or Active Shooter situations (a narrower but more fearful topic) is discussed, the emotional factors and individual reactions are quite interesting. The two topics are different in scope, and will be discussed in the paper. It is odd to me that one of the most common issues raised is the fear of the unpredictable behavior of human nature. The reality is that, "no one can predict human behavior, and there is no specific ‘profile’ of a potentially dangerous individual. However, studies indicate that incidents of violence are usually preceded by patterns of behavior or other activities that may serve as warning signs." (FEMA 2016) Like violent events in nature, human behavior can be unpredictable. However, just like earthquakes or hurricanes, we should plan and prepare to reduce the occurrences or effects of violent events. In safety management' we encounter human behavior deviations from the norm on a daily basis. As a result of human errors, incidents/accidents and identified hazards, there are great ergonomic, engineering design solutions, administrative or training programs that result from root cause analysis. When we relate root cause analysis to workplace violence, I propose that we, as Safety Professionals, are rational and typically act in a data-driven and -controlled manner, but are often at a quandary trying to understanding the logic or rational for extremes of anger, depression, predatory behavior or fanaticisms that often accompany violent acts. It would seem that it is that lack of logical and rational understanding, along with the unpredictability, that unsettles most people regarding this topic.