Workplace Violence Training Programs: Clarifying Major Misconceptions (Pt. 2/2)

Workplace Violence Training Programs: Clarifying Major Misconceptions (Pt. 2/2)

Workplace Violence Training Programs (WVTP) are critical to preparing your employees to appropriately respond to workplace violence, active shooter situations, and most other dangerous events experienced in the workplace.

To Recap:

Our previous blog clarified 4 major misconceptions about WVTP:

  1. “Active Shooter Events are so statistically unlikely that training is not justified.” The training is there to prepare you for the unlikely, extreme event of workplace violence or active shooters. A lack of preperation could compromise workplace safety and endanger lives in the event this situation happened.

  2. “There is no specific OSHA Standard requiring us to address Workplace Violence.” OSHA requires a safe work environment. While it doesn't necessitate mandatory WPVT classes, they are very beneficial to adding an aware, prepared atmosphere to your workplace

  3. “A WVTP will demonstrate to our employees that they are vulnerable and make them afraid to come to work.” When employees hear about training like this, it's important to clarify that it will add protection and preparation to your workplace. It doesn't show vulnerability. It helps eliminate it.

  4. “We already have too many mandatory training programs. We can’t afford another one.” Don't make the classes mandatory, especially at first. Let this be voluntary, adapt to needed changes, improve the program, and focus on the employees most at risk.

Now, let's clarify the remaining misconceptions to best prepare you to discuss these with your company.

“I don’t want military-style, tactical training with role players and blank guns in my facility.”

We’ve all heard the stories. An enthusiastic and well-intended security provider holds an “Active Shooter Response Drill” in a corporate office, complete with role players and firearms.

While most trainers would agree that simulation provides the greatest preparation, conducting such a drill in a resistant corporate environment could mean the death of your program.

Remember that you are training civilian employees in a discipline that elicits high levels of emotion. Therefore, you need to proceed cautiously.

After providing a very non-threatening lecture on the topic, an HR director complained that I had used inflammatory language because I used the word “kill.”

Sensitivities to the seriousness of the situation will usually always be present, and it's wise to be openly aware of them prior to your training.

If you outsource the training, ensure your provider understands your company’s sensitivities. The industry is crowded with providers with impressive military careers or decades of SWAT experience with little or no understanding of the need to proceed with sensitivity.

A search of social media sites for WPVT providers inevitably returns photos of individuals in full camo pointing rifles. This may be the key point of resistance for company leaders. The goal of your program should be to build a high-quality adult training program.

Adults need several factors to see benefit from your program.

  • They need to see that the information being presented is relevant to their lives.
  • They need collaboration to allow them to communicate with peers and process the information being presented.
  • They need information presented by those with experience in the domain, not merely taught from a book.
  • They need the program to be enjoyable while also beneficial; WPVT program can bond employees together while educating on response tactics.

"Workplace Violence Training Programs can help bond employees together while educating on response tactics. This is a great way to create trust, respect, and friendships within your company while also preparing them against threats."

“We instruct our employees to contact corporate security and local law enforcement if something happens, so let the professionals handle it.”

The United States has the best emergency response system in the world. Because of that, Americans believe that a call to 911 immediately solves all problems. This isn't always the case.

Although the data differs from study to study, most active shooter incidents in the US last 12 minutes; law enforcement officers responding to them typically arrive in 18 minutes.

An FBI study determined that in about 70% of the events examined, the incident had ended by the time law enforcement arrived.

Law Enforcement authorities and experts unanimously recommend that we know how to react to save our own lives. Your program should provide that lifesaving information.

“We have the best security access control system money can buy, so our vulnerability to violence is very low.”

Access control systems, when used correctly, are an important factor in protecting employees from outside threats. In fact, increases in access control technology are credited with decreasing homicides involving outsiders.

But threats by outsiders is only one of the several concerns with workplace violence. Many of the most dramatic and publicized violence incidents are caused by coworkers with authorized access to a facility.

Of the four types of violence categorized by the Department of Labor, only Violent Acts by Criminals with noconnection to the workplace is effectively prevented by access control.

The other three relate to employees, those in a relationship with employees, and clients - all of whom bypass access control safeguards.

While working as a Federal Law Enforcement Executive, a female co-worker was unfortunately a fatal victim of workplace violence by her husband who mistakenly believed she was having an affair.

The day before the incident, the husband had come to our office to bring flowers to his wife. He was granted entry and permitted to bypass the perimeter security that included manned metal detection.

Had he wanted to execute his plan that day, the security systems would not have prevented it. All to often, in tragic situations like this, the circumstances are the same.

The best security systems don't account for operator error, so relying solely on the access control isn't a good enough plan.

In Summary

My list of leadership objections is not exhaustive, but the strategy of overcoming objections to a WVTP will require similar responses to those outlined in these articles.

Build your program incrementally, through a series of “baby steps." Make sure your program is sensitive to your culture and audience.

Start by making the program optional and provide it to those who have expressed interest and those at greatest risk. Use the wealth of statistics and expertise within the security industry to justify your efforts.

Finally, build a relevant, collaborative, and enjoyable program and let word-of-mouth build more interest.

Do you need help building your program?
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