7 Key Elements to Add to Your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan [FREE Template]

A workplace violence prevention plan or program is crucial for any workplace, but is particularly important for government buildings, healthcare facilities and other customer-facing environments. 

Active shooters are of course a credible risk to workers in the USA, and one that needs to be taken incredibly seriously. But unfortunately, other instances of workplace violence are becoming more common. A National Safety Council study found that in 2020, an estimated 20,050 workers suffered injuries from violence on the job, equating to about 2.1 assaults per 1,000 workers.

It’s important to have a robust workplace violence prevention plan in place for your government building so your staff know what to do in the event of violence, feel psychologically safe at work and know how to spot the signs of an emerging violent situation.

So what elements should your workplace violence prevention plan include? Skip straight to the 7 elements here or read on to find out what a violence prevention plan is and why your organization should have one.

 Contents:

  1. What is a workplace violence prevention plan?
  2. Why have workplace violence prevention programs?
  3. What are the 7 elements of a workplace violence prevention program?
  4. How often should you review a workplace violence prevention plan?
  5. Free workplace violence prevention program template

What is a workplace violence prevention plan?

A workplace violence prevention plan is a comprehensive strategy designed to identify, mitigate and address potential threats or incidents of violence at work. Its primary objective is to create a safe and secure work environment for employees. This strategic framework should include proactive safety measures, ongoing risk assessments, training and support to ensure that all staff take workplace safety seriously.

An effective workplace violence prevention plan will include physical security measures, such as surveillance cameras and panic alarms, to help prevent violent events or help de-escalate them swiftly. It’s important that the plan also contains policies and protocols to ensure that employees know what to do if an incident occurs.

The key to a good workplace violence prevention program is understanding that it’s a dynamic document that you’ll need to keep reviewing and refining as your organization changes and grows.  

Why have workplace violence prevention programs?

It’s important to have workplace violence prevention programs for several reasons, from ensuring employee safety to helping make cost savings:

Keep staff safe: Workplace violence prevention programs are essential to safeguarding employees, and show that you are prioritising their safety and wellbeing.

Compliance: Implementing a workplace violence prevention plan ensures compliance with legal requirements and standards. While there are no specific OSHA standards for workplace violence, the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 states that employers are required to provide employees with a place of employment that is ‘free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.’

Protect your reputation: A proactive approach to workplace safety demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to its employees, enhancing its reputation and fostering a positive public image.

Reduce absenteeism and turnover: Employees feel safer in a workplace with a prevention program, leading to reduced stress and absenteeism, and are less likely to leave their jobs.

Improve morale: A safe work environment fosters a positive workplace culture, boosting employee morale and productivity.

Lower insurance costs: Proactive safety measures may result in lower insurance premiums, particularly if you invest in physical measures like cameras or panic buttons.

What are the 7 elements of a workplace violence prevention program?

There are 7 key elements that you should include in any workplace violence prevention program. Once you’ve read about them, use our free template to construct a workplace violence prevention program that fits your organisation.

1. Risk assessment and identification

Start with identifying the potential threats specific to your workplace. Assess the likelihood of various types of violence, such as physical assaults, verbal threats or harassment. 

Dynamic risk assessments are the most beneficial for preventing violence as they allow you to manage and evaluate risks in changing, unpredictable situations. Make sure you review your risk assessments regularly and encourage staff to report any concerns they may have.  

dynamic risk assessment 5-step framework

2. Policy development and implementation

You must have policies in place that define workplace violence in all its forms and include procedures for reporting incidents, what to do if an incident occurs and what the consequences are of violating these policies. 

Communicate them to your staff and ensure that they can access them whenever they want to. 

3. Training and awareness programs

The best way to prevent workplace violence is to ensure that your team is aware of the signs of violent situations and what to do if they find themselves in one. Offer training programs that educate your staff on the signs of potential violence, how to respond to violent situations and the importance of following reporting procedures.

It’s also a good idea to find specialized training for unique situations that could occur in your workplace. For example, in government buildings, the chance of having to deal with irate citizens is high, so you may want to consider finding training on how to speak to them without making them even more angry.

4. Incident reporting and investigation

It’s vital that your team know how they can report incidents of workplace violence. Establish and circulate a confidential reporting process, detailing how investigations will be carried out in the event of an incident. 

In the unfortunate event of workplace violence, use the findings from your investigations to improve your policies and procedures.

5. Support and assistance for affected employees

two women sitting on a couch, one upset with her head in her hands being comforted by the other

Instances of workplace violence can have a huge impact on employees, both physically and mentally. Make sure you provide support services for staff affected by workplace violence, such as counselling and medical care. 

Work on creating a culture of support where your team feels safe to seek help. Encourage all employees to be open with each other and deal with anyone who risks this safety culture within your disciplinary procedures. 

6. Workplace design and security measures

There’s a lot you can do to prevent workplace violence simply in the design of the building. Work with specialist architects or planners who can help you consider the visibility of staff, escape routes and safe areas.

Another key part of your workplace violence prevention plan should be physical security measures, such as access control, surveillance systems and panic alarm software. Little Green Button’s discreet panic button allows staff to call for help without alerting the perpetrator, helping staff members to get help quickly and safely.

7. Continuous review and improvement

As with any workplace policy, you must regularly review and update your workplace violence prevention program. Consider whether any potential risks and threats have changed and require further assessment or whether there are any new best practices to take into account. Adapt your program as necessary to prioritize your staff’s safety.

How often should you review a workplace violence prevention plan?

You should review your workplace violence prevention plan at least annually, but you may need to review it more regularly if you’ve recently had an incident or there have been lots of organisational changes. 

Regularly reviewing your workplace violence prevention plan ensures that you can quickly adapt to evolving risks, address emerging threats and integrate with new technologies such as Little Green Button. A dynamic, routinely updated plan reflects a commitment to employee safety, legal compliance, and the ever-changing landscape of workplace security.

Free workplace violence prevention program template

Ready to construct your workplace violence prevention program? Download our free template and use the sections as prompts for creating your plan with other leaders and security professionals for your organisation.