Q & A – How should an employer prepare for a potentially violent situation?

Q: How should an employer prepare for a potentially violent situation?

A: Prior to any threats of violence, the employer should create a policy prohibiting violence and possession of weapons in the workplace.  The policy should define violence broadly to include any behavior that in management’s opinion is threatening, intimidating, violent, or inappropriate.  The policy should identify the employer’s internal procedures for responding to violations and let employees know that they can directly access law enforcement, security, and emergency services if they perceive a threat.  The employer may also wish to organize an Emergency Response Team.  The team, typically led by the senior Human Resource person, might also include staff that are in charge of the facility and/or anyone that handles health and safety issues.  The employer or the team should meet and establish an Emergency Response Plan.  The plan should set out procedures to be followed in an emergency such as where an employee becomes violent or where a customer or visitor becomes violent.  MSEC can assist in developing an Emergency Response Team or Plan.