A woman is uncomfortable going to work because a fellow colleague daily harasses and demeans her because she will not go on a date with him. An employee yells obscenities at his boss across the room in front of your whole team and threatens to hurt him. A man gets fired and says he will be back to take care of business. Have any of the above situations happened at your work? If they have, what was done about it? Were they handled well? 
 
As a former member of a violence in the workplace team for a Fortune 500 company in Minneapolis, I believe it is the company’s responsibility to keep you safe while you are working for them. If your company has a current workplace violence plan in place, consider yourself fortunate.  Businesses that do not have an active workplace violence program may not be ready to handle the many different types of stressful situations concerning their employees. But what makes a successful workplace violence program?
 
A successful workplace violence training program gives examples of what employees should look for in recognizing the signs of behaviors that can lead to workplace violence. The information is communicated to employees in a manner that is easy to understand and practical enough to use, especially in stressful situations where emotions are high. A risk matrix is a good tool that can be used to give employees a sense of what behaviors can be associated with what level of risk. Here is an example:
Low Risk: Argues frequently with colleagues, yelling on phone or behind closed doors, shows signs of drug or alcohol abuse. (Monitor employee, possibly let leadership know about employee)
Medium Risk: Talks about wanting to hurt other employees or management, talks about past incidences of workplace violence, plays the victim and blames company or management for problems.  (Alert leadership and security)
High Risk: Fighting, shoving or destruction of property, shows weapons or states they are easily accessible to get, talks openly and is very specific about hurting people. (Call 911, possibly initiate lockdown procedures)
The training that is given needs to be realistic. For example, your company needs to explain to you how you should handle the following:
1)      Angry or hostile customer or coworker
2)      Person shouting, swearing, and threatening
3)      Someone threatening you with a gun, knife, or other weapon
These are just a couple things out of many to look for in your company’s workplace violence program.  The program needs to be proactive rather then just reactive. Since you give so much time and commitment to your company, your company has a duty to make sure you work in a safe environment. If you don’t know about your workplace violence program at your company, ask your supervisor. Your safety is paramount to your family and your company needs to understand that and take it seriously. Because your family deserves the right to have you come home the same way you left.