Workplace Security and Corporate Responsibility

Jan 16 00:36 2005 Felix P. Nater Print This Article

1. The Security ... ... violence is a reality whether it happens at the ... plant, parking lot, hospital or ... center, and office or while sitting in your ca

1. The Security Consultant's Perspective...

Workplace violence is a reality whether it happens at the
warehouse,Guest Posting 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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About Article Author

Felix P. Nater
Felix P. Nater

Felix P. Nater is President of Nater Associates, Ltd. a Security Management Consulting Practice specializing in issues affecting Workplace Security, Workplace Violence Prevention and Security Awareness.

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