CCH Outlines Essentials For Protecting
Your Organization And Employees From Workplace Violence
(RIVERWOODS, ILL., July 13, 2000) With violence in the workplace on the
rise, organizations need to establish, communicate and carry out clear workplace violence
prevention policies, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of human
resources and employment law information, software and e-learning programs. While the
obvious damage of workplace violence is the immediate physical harm it can cause, there
can be other significant long-term effects on the organization and those individuals who
are either directly or indirectly harmed by the violence.
"The psychological impact violence can have on everyone in and around the
workplace and the negative publicity a violent act generates can be hard to recover
from," said Lori Rosen, CCH workplace law analyst. "Compounding this is the
potential liability that an organization and its managers may face if it can be shown they
didnt take appropriate precautions. It all adds up to a significant financial cost
and a bad position for any organization to find itself in."
To help protect employees and avoid financial damage, companies need to establish
effective workplace violence prevention programs. While programs need to be tailored for
each specific organization and work environment, there are some common essential points
that should be part of most workplace violence prevention programs.
No Talk, Jokes or Acts of Violence Tolerated
The prevention program should clearly state that no talk, jokes or acts of violence
will be tolerated and outline the ramifications for violating this policy. While "no
acts of violence" obviously would include shooting, bombing, sabotage and destruction
to property, these acts only account for a small percentage of workplace violence.
Behaviors that occur much more frequently, like pushing and shoving, are also considered
workplace violence. Even horseplay that starts out as playful touching, punching or
slapping may become aggressive, so it too may be considered violent behavior to be
Threats of violence, including intimidation, harassment or coercion, that involve or
affect employees, their families, friends or property as well as customers or the
organization are also considered violent and should be taken seriously. Even jokes about
violence should be prohibited as any talk of violence may be a precursor to physical
No Weapons Allowed
Employers need to make it clear that no weapons are allowed in the workplace. This
includes banning weapons not only in the actual work area, but also in the company parking
lot or any other business property. The ban should apply to everyone both employees
and non-employees unless specifically exempted by the company (e.g., a security
As part of the prevention program, it also needs to be made clear that weapons include
not just guns and knives but other devices that could be used to threaten or harm someone.
For example, a baseball bat can be considered a weapon if wielded by someone in a
Report Violent Behavior
Because its impossible for employers to continuously monitor for potential
violent behavior, employees have to be the first line of defense when it comes to
preventing workplace violence. As a result, the violence prevention program should
emphasize that any violent behavior must be reported immediately and the program should
include educating employees on signs of personal behavior that may signal that a co-worker
is near the breaking point.
"Often, the immediate reaction to violence at a company is surprise; they
hadnt expected the individual to act violently," said Rosen. "But after
further investigation, its not uncommon to find that there were signs. For example,
others had seen the individual displaying resentment or anger or the person had made
previous threats that had gone unreported."
Because violence can quickly escalate, employers need to make sure employees understand
and take seriously their responsibility to report any threat of violence or behavior they
question as violent. The company also should assure employees that all reports of violent
threats, abuse or violent behavior will be investigated promptly and thoroughly and that
reports will be kept confidential. Its also essential that employers follow through
once a report is made, taking appropriate disciplinary action against any employee that
violates the organization's violence prevention policy, up to and including termination.
Not only should the policy include measures to teach employees how to identify and
report violent behavior, but also how to work safely. This includes basic techniques, such
as being alert to your surroundings as well as knowing where the nearest and safest
evacuation route is and where the nearest phone is to call for assistance.
Working safely also includes providing employees with guidelines for diffusing hostile
situations. Such techniques include trying to keep a safe distance from an aggressor,
speaking calmly, not being confrontational and taking a non-threatening stance.
Make Sure Security Measures are Followed
Many organizations have put in place specific security measures that can support a
workplace violence prevention program. These may include photo ID badges required to enter
the building, security cameras, metal detectors at entrances or bulletproof glass in
Employers need to emphasize that these measures are in place for the employees
protection and that employees should not try to "get around" them. For example,
holding secured doors open for others, carrying things in for people they dont know,
or not taking time to re-lock secured areas.
"Creating a workplace violence prevention policy is really only one step in the
process," said Rosen. "To be fully effective, the program has to be communicated
to employees and employees have to be given the training and tools needed to help carry
out the program."
Desktop Training from CCH Aids Safety, Compliance
To help employers create and maintain a safe workplace, CCH has announced that it will
launch Shared Learning: Workplace Violence Prevention, an Internet and
CD-ROM training tool, in the third quarter of this year. The new interactive training will
be the second in the series of Shared Learning Internet and CD-ROM programs,
which combine CCHs authoritative understanding of human resources and employment law
with the benefits of electronic media for the delivery of effective training at the
desktop. CCH now offers Sexual Harassment Prevention training as part of the Shared
Learning series. Upcoming series will cover Interviewing/Hiring, Discipline/Termination,
E-mail and the Internet and a Spanish-language version of Sexual Harassment
For more information about CCH INCORPORATEDs e-learning series, visit www.elearning.cch.com, or contact a CCH
sales representative at 1-888-224-7377.
About CCH INCORPORATED
CCH INCORPORATED, Riverwoods, Ill., is a leading provider of employment law information
and software for human resource professionals, including Human Resources Management,
Pension Plan Guide, Employee Benefits Guide and Payroll Management
Guide. CCH also provides tax and business law information in print and electronic form
for accounting, legal, health care and small business professionals. CCH is a wholly owned
subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer U.S. The CCH web site can be accessed at www.cch.com. The Human Resources web site can
be accessed at http://hr.cch.com.
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Editors Note: Members of the media who are interested in complimentary review
access to Shared Learning may contact Leslie Bonacum at (847) 267-7153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.