Resources Help Prevent Violence in the Workplace
The workplace is not immune from the potential for violence. Employers and employees should be prepared to deal with a threat or an actual event of violence. Key to this preparation is awareness and training. Although changes can be made to a facility to prevent or minimize an act of violence, having staff with skills to de-escalate a situation is another valuable technique to promote a safe workplace.
De-escalation is a communication technique designed to reduce conflict, anger and the potential for future aggression or violence. Emotionally charged situations can escalate quickly, but well-informed and trained employees can help prevent this from happening.
MCIT and other organizations offer no- or low-cost resources to train employees in workplace violence prevention and de-escalation techniques. Others offer assistance with premises security issues.
The MCIT Video Library includes the following employee training DVDs at no cost for members to borrow:
- Conflicts in the Workplace: Sources and Solutions: Acknowledges common sources of workplace conflict, such as gossip, defensiveness, dwelling on it, bullying and assuming the worst. Then it gives solutions and specific techniques for resolving conflicts. A study guide is included with the materials.
- Customer Service: Examines the principles of successful customer service for the public sector. It discusses the importance of providing customer service to co-workers and to citizens. The video encourages the creation of a positive atmosphere by being calm, patient, consistent and helpful. It helps viewers learn how to minimize unnecessary frustration.
- Dealing with Difficult Citizens: Helps government employees understand and prepare to successfully calm emotionally charged situations with difficult citizens. The video follows five situations from the beginning of the incident to its successful conclusion and includes explanations of how to 1) assess the situation; 2) position one-self; 3) interact with the other person; and 4) slowly take control of the situation.
- Street Smart from 9 to 5 (3 episode series)—Defusing the Explosive Customer, Managing Employee Hostility and Responding to Violence at Work: This series of three videos focuses on skills to deal with angry customers, co-workers and the public at large. The videos offer techniques to defuse hostile or explosive behavior before violence erupts and offers tips for increasing personal safety if an individual were to become assaultive. The goal of the series is to reduce hostility and violence in the workplace through respect, service and safety. It is recommended that the three-volume series be viewed together.
- Workplace Violence: The Early Warning Signs: Experience shows that early attention to the warning signs for targeted workplace violence not only can make workplaces safer but also can improve morale and productivity by minimizing fear and disruption. This video details 10 warning signs, providing examples, and educates employees about the importance of reporting any concerns. This discussion focuses on potential violence perpetrated by employees at work, not by outside individuals coming into the workplace. The video should be used in conjunction with broader training and education about an organization’s policies and procedures related to workplace violence and security.
Articles Provide Tips
The MCIT Resource Library includes a variety of articles to assist members with their loss control and risk management efforts. MCIT adds to the library continuously. Below are a few articles that particularly address issues related to workplace violence:
- Civilian Employees and Weapons on the Job: Allowing civilian employees to carry weapons on the job, such as stun guns and pepper spray, may cause more problems than the safety they are supposed to provide. This article examines the risks of civilian employees’ carrying weapons while on the job.
- Pepper Spray in the Workplace: Law enforcement often carry pepper spray to be used as a weapon or to defuse a difficult situation. However, MCIT members must consider the prudence of allowing other employee’s to carry the spray while on the job. This article outlines issues for members to consider when developing a policy and procedures related to employees’ carrying pepper spray.
- Permit to Carry Law: Restricting Firearms in Public Buildings: The Minnesota permit-to-carry law allows operators of private establishments that are generally open to the public to ban all firearms from their establishments. Public entities do not have the same flexibility. This article discusses the Minnesota permit-to-carry law and the ability of public entities to prohibit handguns and other firearms on their premises, particularly courthouses.
- Public Building Security Assessment: County Liability: When considering engaging an expert to evaluate the security of public facilities, an organization should evaluate the impact of that assessment on the organization’s liability.
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry: Workplace Safety Consultation
This office works with employers and employees to increase their understanding of workplace violence in a way that emphasizes prevention and voluntary compliance. The office’s Workplace Violence Prevention Resource Center provides consultation, outreach and training at no cost to county and municipal organizations. The office’s website includes:
- A Preventing Workplace Violence brochure
- Frequently Asked Questions About Workplace Violence
- A Comprehensive Guide for Employers and Employees
- Links to federal resources
The Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association can assist member counties with courts and building security issues, including training about security awareness, and performing security assessments.
Members can contact the Sheriffs’ Association to learn more about how it can assist with a county’s security concerns:
Minnesota Safety Council Offers More Tools
Members of Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust receive a membership with the Minnesota Safety Council, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injuries, a leading cause of death, disability and economic loss. Minnesota Safety Council membership offers access to no-cost or discounted services:
- Training courses
- Training videos (DVDs and streaming)
- Policy development assistance
- Fact sheets and other training or awareness materials
Visit the Minnesota Safety Council website to explore classes, tips and resources for improving workplace safety.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Critical Infrastructure Security
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security works with local governments across the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the nation’s critical infrastructure and to prepare for and recover from a variety of hazards. This include:
- Active Shooter Preparedness Program: This program is designed to enhance preparedness through a “whole community” approach by providing products, tools and resources to help citizens and organizations prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident. The materials include two videos:
- Options for Consideration: An active shooter preparedness video that demonstrates possible actions to take if confronted with an active shooter scenario. The video also shows how to assist authorities once law enforcement enters the scene.
- Active Shooter Emergency Action Plan: The video describes fundamental concepts of developing an emergency action plan for an active shooter scenario. The instructive video guides viewers through important considerations of emergency action plan development using the first-hand perspectives of active shooter survivors, first responder personnel and other subject matter experts who share their unique insights.
- Responding to a bomb threat: Bomb threats or suspicious items must be taken seriously. Learning to quickly and safely respond to a bomb threat could save lives. This section of the Homeland Security website offers:
- Information about what to do if someone receives a bomb threat,
- Information about what to do if someone finds a suspicious item
- Guidance for developing a plan for facility owners and mangers
- Bomb threat checklist
- Bomb threat training video
- Additional resources for local law enforcement and first responders
Employee Assistance Program: Support for Difficult Workplace Situations
The Employee Assistance Program offers services to assist with difficult circumstances:
- Counseling Services for Personal Concerns: Difficult personal concerns may affect an employee’s work performance. The EAP provides no-cost, short-term counseling to MCIT member employees, officials, their spouses and dependents.
- 24-Hour Supervisor Coaching: The EAP is available to provide support and consultation to supervisors 24 ours a day. This free, phone-based service is designed to help members sort through concerns and find the best way to respond to employees and manage difficult workplace situations, including issues of conflict.
- Critical Incident Stress Debriefing: When a traumatic event affects the workplace, members can request an EAP counselor to visit the workplace and meet with those who experienced the event and help them cope with it. This is a fee-based service.