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Workplace Security and Corporate Responsibility


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1. The Security Consultant’s Perspective…

Workplace violence is a reality whether it happens at the
warehouse, plant, parking lot, hospital or treatment center, and
office or while sitting in your car taking notes. It should not
be swept under the carpet. The average out of court civil suit
settlement is in the range of $300,000 to $500,000; jury
rendered verdicts awarding $1 Million dollars plus. A clear
reporting system should be implemented and all employees should
be trained and encouraged to report all incident

Training and Security Awareness makes good sense. While all
supervisors and managers should receive some form of orientation
on Threat Assessment and Risk Management all employees should
receive training also. Key to the fair and equitable
determination of an incident is total analysis of available
information about the participants, the incident and the
environment. Knowledge of how to conduct a fact-finding
investigation should be part of the Threat Assessment Training
for supervisors in determination of the type of disciplinary
action or deciding criminal prosecution. Companies wishing to
gain a perspective of their workplace violence potential risks
should begin with a security survey of all employees and
environment. Training to assist employees in identifying warning
signs of workplace violence and what steps to take to
de-escalate incidents before eruption is next. Essential to a
good workplace violence prevention program is the policy and the
plan to deal with incidents. Unfortunately, some companies have
paid little to no attention to the implementation of asecurity
policy and plans because, “We don’t have a security problem
here”.

2. Are we really safe…

Linda Lockwood, PhD, Metropolitan State College of Denver says
that workplace violence is obviously a serious problem that must
be better understood in order to prevent its occurrence. Its
cost to our society is measured in terms of dollars and human
life. For instance, it’s the second greatest cause of death in
the workplace for men and the first greatest cause of death for
women (E. Gonzalez, Confronting workplace violence psychologist
traces everyday causes, Rocky Mountain News, October, 1999).
Recent headlines underscore the reality that workplace violence
is a phenomenon, which affects every institution and workplace,
and that the perpetrator is a microcosum of our society.

Nevertheless, we must guard against potential acts of violence
by doing something; being aware, holding the participants
accountable and providing support services. Employee security
checklist and opinion surveys are essential tools available to
the security consultant to assist in the assessment and
evaluation process. They will tell you that lights in the
parking lot are not working, that they feel insecure visiting
clients or patients alone or that a reduced hospital staff on
weekends leaves the hospital security short of staff.
Preparation will help to minimize injury and the risk of
fatalities.

3. What studies show…

In addition to the disgruntled employee which, is the greatest
security threat to the workplace or the mentally ill worker,
business practices also are potential contributors to a hostile
workplace. A supervisor aware of a disgruntled employee can’t
afford to discipline him or her because, the loss might have an
adverse affect on efficiency and performance. Environmental
changes to improve security measures are too costly and the
changes are not needed. While employees are often victims of
their jobs, positions and contact with the public, job stress
and personal distresses are real factors that increase the
likelihood of workplace violence. A theory of the workplace
violence and aggression is that an “individual’s cognitive
appraisal” of a situation can create more severe affective
reactions and potentially aggressive behaviors in situations
that may not call for heightened responses”. In other words,
some people may create a “mountain out of a mole hole”, because
of the way they unrealistically interpret their situation.

4. Stress is a real factor…

Profiles of perpetrators suggest that high stress levels are
commonly experienced just prior to an act of violence says
Worthington J. Hurrell, in 1999 in an article entitled: “Job
stress, gender, and workplace violence Analysis of assault
experiences of state employees”. Dr. Frank Ghinassi, PhD, and
assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of
Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said that the start of war can
bring on feelings of anxiety over personal safety, financial
security and the safety of loved ones in military service. He
stressed that it was possible that many would experience
feelings of increased stress and anxiety. I believe aggressive
intervention and security awareness are essential to the
interdiction of the potentially explosive situation.

5. The President comes to the rescue…

Challenging the effectiveness of an aggressive Workplace
Violence Interdiction Program was the 1999 Federal Trade
Commission Fair Credit Reporting opinion that prohibited
employers’ use of outside professional investigators in cases of
suspected employee misconduct unless the same requirements used
in credit investigations were satisfied. This meant that the
worker suspected of misconduct had to be notified before any
investigation. In addition, the FTC required that the employer
provide a complete copy of the investigation’s results to the
suspect employee, including the names and comments of witnesses.

Thanks to the yeoman efforts of ASIS (Association of Security
Industrial Society), the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, SHRM
(Society for Human Resource Management) and the National Council
of Investigation and Security Services, President Bush signed a
bill into law Dec. 4, 2003 re-authorizing the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, which includes a provision that removes workplace
misconduct investigations from the notice and disclosure
requirements of the FCRA. This re-authorization aids workplace
security intervention. ASIS officials said these barriers were
overlooked by Congress until Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) perceived
the possible threat posed to the security and safety of
employees and consumers by the FTC opinion. Sarah Pierce, SHRM
manager of employment policy, said, “the FTC’s 1999
interpretation was problematic because it contradicted numerous
other laws that were specifically tailored to apply to the
workplace.” “Because of the changes, employers can now hire
outside experts to investigate incidents of workplace misconduct
without fear of liability”, said Josh Ulman, Director, Labor Law
Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The re-authorization
restores the employer’s right to maintain a safe and secure
workplace and insures a suspect’s right to a professional,
thorough and impartial investigation.

6. Corporate America takes responsibility and accountability…

Employers who take responsibility and accountability for the
hostile conduct of its employees are employers who follow their
Security Policy, Plans and Programs. Merely disciplining the
perpetrator without a thorough knowledge of the facts and
circumstances does not do justice to the adverse potential to
morale, performance, production, future compensation claims and
security. It fails to identify the root cause or the
contributing behavior of the participants. Remember, every
catastrophe has a precursor event before the triggering action.
Knowing the Risk Indicators warns all of the suspicious
intentions. When there are clear reporting requirements all
involved will benefit from the early warning and collaboration.
Corporate America can again regain the lost turf. Being able to
conduct a proper investigation, take corrective measures will
assist with the rehabilitation process.

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  • Posted On April 19, 2006
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