What Does the Threat of Workplace Violence Mean to Your Organization?

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What Does the Threat of Workplace Violence Mean to Your Organization?

Posted on: July 26th, 2023

Understanding the meaning of workplace violence requires one to know the differences in rolling out prevention strategies between non-violent acts of violence from the violent homicidal and physical acts of aggression of the disgruntled worker or student. Putting the threat of workplace violence, workplace violence prevention and workplace security in perspective has a broader meaning and alarming appreciation when it’s viewed from the active shooter incident. Check out this article on mass shootings. I ask you, should the focus be on preventing the active shooter or preparing for it?  https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/24/politics/us-400-mass-shootings

Workplace violence prevention should not be based on anticipating the active shooter but addressing the conditions, situations and circumstances that contribute to escalation, and disgruntled behavior.  Workplace Violence and School Violence Prevention must be the priority. It does not suggest active shooter training is not important, but it should be put in perspective in avoiding allegations of negligence in not addressing the need for an effective school or workplace violence prevention program, quality prevention training, credible reporting, monitoring and tracking systems, and sound physical security plans. https://naterassociates.com/now-is-a-better-time-than-ever-to-refresh-your-workplace-violence-prevention-measures-before-any-civil-liability-allegation-claim-of-negligence/

As serious a concern the active shooter threat is emphasis must be on preventing the disgruntled employee and/or student from transitioning to thoughts of homicidal retaliation as it relates to workplace violence, school violence and the domestic violence/intimate violence workplace spillover threat.

The United States reached 400 mass shootings in a record number of days in 2023, about midway through the year. 2019 was the first year to experience more than 400 mass shootings in one year since at least 2013.

The psychological and emotional impact of the active shooter is acknowledged, especially during the incident, and specifically during the aftermath when the focus turns to national statistics, sensationalizing the shooter armed with military style weapons and ammunition, and discussions around gun control designed to move the discussion away from why the tragedy happened in the first place.  As horrific as the active shooter is organizations must focus on addressing violence prevention designed around an organizational prevention program led from top down, involving multiple intervention strategies, and leadership that is empathetic and accountable. Studies have shown that most workplace violence is an outcome of workplace related relationships and issues brought to work. New Secret Service Research Examines for the First Time Five Years of Mass Violence Data | United States Secret Service

Why the concern? Media focus on gun control instead of asking WHY these incidents happen, overshadows the fact that nonviolent incidents of workplace violence are more prevalent, frequent and insidious than the active shooter. Such incidents are not only detrimental to business, workplace security, and people safety, but they leave a longer lasting psychologically harmful impact on people (victims and witnesses) exposed to insults, verbal abuse, ethnic and racial remarks, bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation and threats of violence. Bullying a form of harassment whether by co-workers or a supervisor. Vail threats of bodily harm come to mind as forms of nonviolent acts of violence.  “Workplace Violence in general continues to be a pressing all organizations across the United States. No organization is immune. Today, millions of people fall victim to workplace violence each and every year”.

The price of Workplace Violence has a physical, psychological, emotional, and financial toll on the victims, witnesses, and the businesses alike. While worst-case scenarios seem to be the attention grabber, incidents of nonviolence are real and present.  Regardless of its place of occurrence, the simple but equally annoying and escalating nonviolent acts of violence contributes to feelings of emotional contagions, and spontaneous retaliations. We are referring to situations that when left unabated leads to violence fueled by circumstances and individuals known or unknown to the organization. https://naterassociates.com/cost-workplace-violence-prevention-awareness/

Workplace violence prevention should focus on anticipating the active shooter, addressing the conditions, situations and circumstances that contribute to escalation, aggressive conduct, and homicidal thoughts of retaliation.  Workplace Violence and School Violence Prevention must be the priority.  I am not suggesting active shooter training is not important, but it should be put in perspective to avoid allegations of negligence in management, security and training.   https://naterassociates.com/now-is-a-better-time-than-ever-to-refresh-your-workplace-violence-prevention-measures-before-any-civil-liability-allegation-claim-of-negligence/

When thinking of workplace violence prevention, it is not good enough to document the incident or the complaint but that the organization follows up, brings closure to allegations and keeps all involved informed. Considering the situations and circumstances ensures employee issues are not left unresolved or uncorrected. In civil liability lawsuits the judge and the jury must be convinced all that could be done was done to manage the violence. Prudent actions taken, go a long way towards showing honorable intentions. https://naterassociates.com/how-to-improve-the-strategic-value-of-workplace-violence-prevention-december-31-2021/

I challenge all CEOs, School Superintendents, School Principals and Executive Directors of Public Housing to take charge of their workplace violence prevention and workplace security initiatives within their organizations. Start by giving guidance and seeking clarification. Like the U.S. Army Commander who goes through a methodical set of steps asking necessary questions, insisting on necessary answers and setting the organizational tempo, civilian organizational leaders must be in control. They must ultimately lead the way in designing strategies, ensuring effective polices, plans and measures that are worksite specific and workforce specific, and planning training that reflects organizational risks. Reactive measures are not simply enough; it is necessary to be proactive, well trained, prepared and well-equipped in addressing workplace disputes, personal conflicts and unresolved workplace disagreements.  In what appears to reflect a propensity for violence, the workforce must know how to respond and what they are responsible for today.  Waiting for tomorrow is a NO-GO. https://www.thelightningpress.com/military-decision-making-process-mdmp/

So, when organizations roll out violence prevention policy the organization must ensure that the policy is supported by a plan, training that supports the policy, and the plans, and the knowledge of potential risks the workforce is likely to encounter in their work environments are addressed.  Service employees harassed on their routes; nurses fearful of conducting home visits; understaffing, employees who work alone, plant employees taunting one another are scenarios that must be addressed, TODAY. Necessary resources must be allocated to protect threatened employees, and salespeople who threaten to resign rather than do business under certain conditions are all workplace realities management must resolve. When put in charge of workplace violence prevention, one must understand the environments and the expectations. Use templates but avoid the cookier-cutter approach, culture eats strategy. https://naterassociates.com/what-if-your-ceo-put-you-in-charge-of-workplace-violence-prevention/

Because workplace violence prevention is an ongoing process it involves multiple intervention strategies, knowing the playing field is relatively important.  Some Statistics About Workplace Violence that will help you frame the prevention approach and level the playing field.

30 STARTLING WORKPLACE VIOLENCE STATISTICS [2023]: STATISTICS ON WORKPLACE VIOLENCE IN THE US 30 Startling Workplace Violence Statistics [2023]: Statistics On Workplace Violence In The US – Zippia

Allow me to share this additional data to support my focus and hopefully help you put workplace violence prevention in perspective. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. ” Today, millions of people fall victim to workplace violence each and every year”.

  • In the United States, there are roughly 2 million victims of workplace violence each year.
  • The healthcare and social assistance industries have an 8.2% workplace violence incident rate.
  • Workplace violence deaths rates for men are roughly 75% higher than those for females.
  • Workplace violence causes American businesses to lose, on average, $250 to $330 billion every year.
  • 85% of workplace violence deaths are due to robbery.
  • Workplace assaults resulted in 20,050 injuries and 392 fatalities in 2020 alone.


  • 68% of workers across the world do not feel safe at work.
  • 94% of American workers have been bullied at least once in the workplace.
  • About half of all human resources professionals say that their business has experienced at least one workplace violence incident.

Note: The link to this fascinating data is above under Statistics on Workplace Violence.

Putting workplace violence in perspectives makes the organizational strategy effective. Let me close for now with these thoughts:

1 out of 7 Americans does not feel safe at work, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, (SHRM) known as – the voice of all things “work.”

If you are a business owner, CEO, manager, or human resource professional, it is highly likely that you are concerned but ill-prepared to deal with preventing workplace violence. How could you not be with so many employees voicing their fears?

“Waiting for an event to happen, then acting while it is underway, is a troubling response. Workplace violence has multiple levels of complexity. There are several things that should take place before a violent situation occurs. When an event happens, determining what tactics should be employed and by whom must be planned for in advance. Additionally, every employee has a role to play if the company is to mitigate the threat and dangers of workplace violence.” https://www.alan-adler.com/ask-alan-how-to-stop-workplace-violence/


To keep it simple and for a later discussion take the week by storm. Contact me with questions and ideas.


About the Author:

Felix P. Nater, CSC a retired United States Postal Inspector, is  an independent security management consultant. As Postal Inspector Felix worked on the New York Division’s Workplace Violence Interdiction Team. He brings extensive expertise and experiences helping organizations avoid the mistakes that lead to workplace violence by implementing and managing  workplace security strategy with an emphasis on workplace violence prevention.

New Book – Combating Workplace Violence: Creating & Maintaining Safe Work Environments

Posted on: June 14th, 2023

New book co-authored by Felix P. Nater, David Van Fleet and Ella Van Fleet was released for publication on June 1, 223.

Feel free to click on the link to see the book(s) in our virtual exhibit booth and use the coupon code ALA23 when purchasing from that list. https://www.infoagepub.com/vc/ALA23.

Once in the virtual exhibit booth scroll down to Combating Workplace Violence and click on the book cover.

The book is available from the Information Age Publications now or through Amazon shortly.

Those who place an order will find the the book a practical resource.

Upcoming Book Information – Combating Workplace Violence: Creating and Maintaining Safe Work Environments

Posted on: March 18th, 2023

Today the threat of violence impacting worker safety and business operations is a major concern. It is crucial that thoughtful violence prevention policies and supporting violence response plans be developed before any incidents occur in order to properly prepare to use, respond, engage, and react appropriately. Once violence begins or ends is not good enough. The threats are real, and the risks must be managed. A violent threat from a current or former employee, domestic violence or relationship violence spillovers, and the threat posed by criminals committing crimes against people and property are concerns for which all organizations must prepare. Incident avoidance is not acceptable – indeed, most likely not possible. Our job is to make it manageable.


This book, Combating Workplace Violence, provides a basic understanding of workplace violence as well as prevention policy and plan development in non-technical terms. The key to the successful development and implementation of a workplace prevention policy is the collaborative proactive leadership of company executives and management and the assistance of a qualified, reputable consultant. While the information and tools contained here are designed to serve as a baseline for any organization’s solution to workplace violence, the material is useful to inform and educate any member of an organization. The unique framework (V-REEL®) for analyzing the organization’s internal environment to determine what can be done to try to eradicate or reduce workplace violence is especially useful. Ancillaries following each chapter provide additional information and tools to assist your planning. We envision this book being used to inform managers, human resource professionals, workers, and academics in all types of organizations. Hopefully, using the material and framework of this book, more organizations will develop policies, procedures, and practices to prevent workplace violence.



This book is a must-read for business leaders and threat assessment professionals. Felix Nater shares his years of experience and expertise on a very difficult and dynamic topic and delivers a comprehensive guide to identify, assess, and mitigate workplace violence hazards. Felix highlights why workplace violence prevention is a shared responsibility across the entire organization and that successful programs are championed from the top down. This book will help any organization create a culture of workplace violence awareness and instill employee confidence in leadership to provide a safe and secure work environment. — Gary Thompson, County of Santa Barbara, California


This book should be required reading for all company executives. Felix’s insights on workplace environment disciplines are integral in demonstrating employee commitment from the top down. Fortunately, I have had experience working with Felix in a yeoman capacity where we learned from each other. Felix articulates employee commitment through well-structured practices. I highly recommend his approach provided in this book. The authors are on target. I am also proud to have his valued friendship. — Thomas Rosati, U.S. Postal Service, Suffolk County, NY


This book explores the enterprise approach to preparing and responding to violence in the workplace, in a way few have attempted to tackle. As a co-author, my familiarity with Felix Nater’s depth of knowledge in the subject shines bright through each chapter. This book is a must-read for Physical Security, Human Resources, General Council, all the way to the C-Suite. — William Davis, The Carolinas


This book captures the realities facing the workforce in a Post Covid-19 world. “Today,” unlike any previous time in history, the workforce has work options that increase workforce security considerations. It is precisely here that so many of us get stuck. Having a thought process drives the discussion in protecting an organization, beyond the physical security “gates, guns, and guards” mentality that characterizes most safety and security programs. Felix Nater, and his co-author capture, and document what is needed in creating a sound workplace violence program. You will learn to empower your team with this no-nonsense guide to eliminating excuses and speaking the truth about workplace violence within the workforce workplace environments. — Victor Hayghe, Health Care Industry


CONTENTS: Preface. Introduction. A Quiz. CHAPTER 1: What is Workplace Violence? CHAPTER 2: The Impact of Workplace Violence. CHAPTER 3: Warning Signs? CHAPTER 4: How Vulnerable Is the Organization? CHAPTER 5: Developing a Violence Prevention Policy. CHAPTER 6: Violence Prevention Policy. CHAPTER 7: Developing a Violence Prevention. CHAPTER 8: Active Shooter/Hostile Intruder: Preparations. CHAPTER 9: Active Shooter/Hostile Intruder: Action. CHAPTER 10: Leadership Roles. CHAPTER 11: The Consultant’s Role. CHAPTER 12: The Consulting Process. CHAPTER 13: Case Study. A Final Word. Appendix A: OSHA Fact Sheet. Appendix B: Glossary of Terms. Appendix C: Related Books. References. Index. About the Authors.


        This title will be found at https://www.infoagepub.com/products/Combating-Workplace-Violence

IAP– Information Age Publishing, Inc. PO Box 79049 Charlotte, NC 28271

Phone: 704-752-9125 www.infoagepub.co


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Felix P. Nater, CSC is a certified security consultant as awarded by the International Association of Professional Security Consultants and has celebrated his 20th year as president and owner of Nater Associates, Ltd. in providing employers an integrated suite of workplace violence prevention services that include Coaching Advising and Consulting. He practices his unique violence interdiction consulting model from the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure or pay much more later.



Now is a Better Time than Ever to Refresh Your Workplace Violence Prevention Measures Before Any Civil Liability Allegation Claim of Negligence

Posted on: October 14th, 2022

Today more than ever, workplaces are veritable lightning rods. As such, they are more volatile than ever. Assumptions about workplace security and workplace violence prevention posture should not be made about in-house capabilities just because things are going along smoothly. https://naterassociates.com/threat-workplace-violence-looms-mightily/

Such success is a function of your proactive policies and plans but should be subject to critical assessment.

Remember, no workplace or school setting is immune from daily incidents of harassment, verbal abuse, name calling, intimidating conduct, threats, bullying or other workplace related conflict. The objective should be to address the minor issues before they evolve. Unresolved physical acts of violence eventually escalate when assumptions are made, or issues are not resolved.

The success of the workplace violence prevention initiative is only realized through senior management commitment, employee involvement, an educated workforce, swift reporting, and hasty intervention measures that allow for speedy resolution of employee complaints, reports, and observations. Hasty intervention avoids escalation through root cause analysis that seeks to identify causation, contributing factors and risk mitigation.  http://www.ishn.com/articles/93898-an-ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-pound-of-cure-

Implementing an organizational focus conveys senior management’s commitment and investment in workforce safety and security serving to build workforce trust and confidence in the effort. Workplace violence prevention and violence response measures that are supported by adequate training ensures understanding of what constitutes workplace violence, why reporting and hasty intervention are important and how to respond during an active shooter incident.


  Like other business practices, workplace violence prevention needs to undergo constant review, update, and scrutiny if organizations are interested in leveraging their resources by creating a robust, agile, and proactive (RAP) capabilities.

While incidents of workplace violence are typically decided under zero tolerance, organizations that strive to fairly resolve conflict without extreme disciplinary actions help reduce hostility an avert the attitudes associated with the transition of the disgruntled employee or student to thoughts of retaliation and revenge. Suspending or Expelling Students only serves to give them more spare time to be creative if not diabolical. Treating individuals with dignity and respect promotes an engaged workforce to “See Something and Say Something.”


The best way to create a culture of responsibility and accountability in an organization is through senior leadership oversight including Boards of Directors, CEOs and Executive Directors who can play a greater role influencing effective strategy and authorizing funding for training and technology.


Workplace violence prevention strategies must be unique and not designed from a cookie-cutter mindset that suggest “best practices” that worked well at another organization will work well at your organization. Workplace violence prevention initiatives left to chance for the workforce to unpack will not enjoy top-down support for funding, lack workforce credibility and not reflect worksite specific focus. So, stop wasting time on training not attended by senior managers expecting workforce buy-in.  http://talentculture.com/workplace-violence-prevention-strategy-and-training/


Workplace violence prevention is an initiative that will never realize alignment without senior management commitment. Front line supervisors can have an advantage in the organizational strategy because of their high visibility and familiarity with the workforce and the issues. During civil liability lawsuits co-workers support their co-workers because their perceive management was unresponsive and contributory.https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence


  Things to consider – the homicidal act of violence will not just surface as a revenge notion but an emotional response to perceptions, unfair treatment, disparate treatment, or unresolved victimization. There are no surprises only failure to recognize opportunities to intervene. Do not have a negative termination mentality thinking the disgruntled employee does not know how to re-enter through the back door.


When you turn on the news and hear about someone who “goes homicidal” remember, the workplace had something to do with the person’s rationalization and justification. Willful acts of misconduct like bullying, verbal abuse, name calling, harassment, threats, intimidation and even pushing, and shoving lead to more aggressive acts of violence.http://cdllife.com/2022/boss-and-receptionist-shot-at-illinois-trucking-companies-two-dead/

Unresolved issues foster ill will and justify revenge. Sometimes, the nonviolent offender resorts to sabotage, abusive phone calls and other forms of harassment. I recall an incident where the disgruntled employee slashed the supervisor’s four car tires.

Can workplaces be the victim of its culture? Absolutely! Myths play a significant role in diverting resources because there is a belief that “Workplace Violence Is Not Preventable” or that “Workplace Violence Will Never Happen Here.”  Having a RAP philosophy to workplace violence prevention can effectively minimize transition of the disgruntled employee/student to the active shooter. Being proactive and not reactive are key.https://www.universalclass.com/articles/business/workplace-violence-and-the-role-of-culture.htm

What will be your philosophy going forward?

The author, Felix P. Nater, CSC has extensive experiences and expertise on the topic of workplace violence and workplace violence prevention in maximizing limited resources effectively and efficiently. For the last twenty years he has worked with private, public and government organizations helping them envision, implement, and improve workplace security strategy with an emphasis on the OSHA Four Categories of Workplace Violence, and workplace security and personnel safety as it relates to suspicious letters and parcels, bomb threats, and suicide risk mitigation. www.naterassociates.com

How to Improve the Strategic Value of Workplace Violence Prevention – December 31, 2021

Posted on: January 2nd, 2022

Happy 2022! May it be your best year ever.

In the late winter of 2020, Hanna Hasl-Kelchner asked me to join her on her podcast, Business Confidential Now.  A lot has happened over 2021 that has raised the level of concern, so we decided to reissue the interview in this format to get attention and implementation of some practical solutions.  We had a great conversation then if you’d like to listen to the entire episode. We’ve decided to include short snippets of each subtopic for your listening convenience as I expand upon each subtopic to make the case for proactive engagement, awareness, preparedness, and proactivity as well as training in violence response (active shooter and police response). Listen to the full episode here. https://bit.ly/3f6QhUN


There were three topics of particular interest that Hanna focused on that really emphasized the interview and aligned closely with the main theme and what we talked about during the show. Here they are:


You could be the subject of workplace violence and not know it.  OSHA has definitions of workplace violence to help employers formulate policies and captures the incidents under 4 specific Categories of Workplace Violence.  Let’s address what workplace violence covers. There are a lot of employees out there who do not know they are victims of workplace violence and who might assume because they do not know and not to report it.


Most workplaces to include school places do not truly understand the integration of workplace violence prevention as an organizational function. Workplaces operate believing that it can’t happen to them. They really should not think like that simply because workplaces and their workforce are a microcosm of our society. No business whether a small, medium, or large employer is immune from the reality of workplace violence.


Whatever the size or status of your workplace, each workplace should have a workplace violence prevention policy supported by a workplace violence prevention program. It doesn’t have to be complicated or complex, but it should cover specific aspects of the threats and risks your workplace might be exposed to or experiences. The threats and risks run the gamut from physical violence to emotional and traumatic violence otherwise known as psychological violence.


Because under the OSHA Duty to Warn Clause, employers are required to provide for a safe workplace violence free of any hazard that might lead to violence, they are expected to introduce workplace violence prevention policies and risk mitigation measures that include training and security measures.


The threat of workplace violence is a real and present danger that does not always have to include physical violence. The most frequent incidents are nonfatal such as verbal abuse such as verbal abuse which include name calling, insults, racial and ethnic slurs, taunting, harassment, bullying, sexual harassment, intimidation, threats, and nuisance behavior.


The idea is to address these so-called minor or nonfatal incidents as quickly as possible to avoid escalation. Stop the banter and drop the excuses.  OSHA annually documents approximately 2,000 reported incidents of what is commonly referred to as nonfatal and nonfatal incidents like an active shooter or homicide during a physical assault.  The objective is to establish a proactive workplace violence prevention mindset designed to inform the workforce through a policy that clarified what constitutes workplace violence, addresses mutual responsibilities, and speaks to the consequences for breaching the policy. Ultimately the objective is to avoid is the disgruntled employee whom you walk out the front door from returning through the unsecured back door.  https://youtu.be/eA79GElBktg


9 Potential workplace violence warning signs you need to know. While there are a host of red flags and warning signs that may apply to any type of workplace, my recommendation is to keep this subject as simple and practical as possible to encourage to overcome the fear of reporting his or her observation. Reporting of the coworker of misconduct is a difficult decision for the employee who relates to the problem and may be empathetic. It doesn’t mean they tolerate what they see, hear, or assume but that they do not want to be wrongly accused or might be concerned about their personal safety.


The purpose of workplace violence prevention training is to create a compelling training experience that encourages reporting based on red flags or warning signs and impact to workplace safety and security. The goal is early reporting and swift intervention whether it applies to an employee observation or suspicious non-employee report. Helping the workforce to appreciate the value of reporting is essential in gaining their cooperation.


Reporting can be anonymous or for attribution – just report it. One doesn’t have to be perfect or accurate only that it gets reported. Go with gut feelings supported by your training, suspicions, observations, and the recognized behaviors. Don’t put off the observation by rationalizing and justifying what was heard or seen. Waiting is not an option in addressing suspicious behavior.  We want to prevent escalation, prevent an assault, prevent problems by calling management’s attention appropriately and swiftly. https://youtu.be/zzajBm9w6qE


Why workplace violence prevention doesn’t need to be expensive. Small and midsize organizations lament over the thought because it will cost too much money and time for something that has never happened before. There is an old Lee Myles Transmission commercial – “pay me now or pay me later”.  Mandated court spending is a lot more than voluntary investment in prevention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.


Human Resources and Security Directors have a corporate responsibility that in many instances hampers their ability to stay on top of workplace violence prevention. Larger organizations can have a workforce spread about in multiple locations over many states and countries. Expense is a legitimate pushback on whether to hire or train their workforce onsite but not an area where the courts have been sympathetic to. Being resourceful means doing more within your budgets. Conducting employee surveys can yield incredible results. Don’t worry that will create more work. The worst witness in a civil liability lawsuit is the employee who knew but was never asked. responsibility.


I say if you have knowledgeable resources, and your confidence level is high, relying on your internal expertise to develop basic content and present appropriate training content with credibility will go a long way. That person could be a supervisor, the HR Professional. security manager or the safety manager. The truth is that overcoming the arguments of limited resources and time, creativity and imagination can make the workplace violence prevention initiative a cost-effective workforce safety and security investment. Doing it yourself does not have to be sophisticated – just do it and you’d be surprised at the results.  Keep it simple.


Resourcefulness is the tip of creativity and innovation.  Organizations that do not employee security managers can be creative in training supervisors. As leaders within organizations supervisors by virtue of their reach and accessibility by the workforce can make the difference. Used as trainers, supervisors can highlight areas of specific concern among their teams daily or as situations dictate. As leaders, supervisors can be the first line of defense in responding to employee reports and complaints, assessing incidents and conduct workplace specific assessments. They are in a strategic position to act swiftly and proactively to observations and employee reports.


Speaking of cost effective, the greatest tool that gets the most for the investment is the new employee orientation. It can be a time where the security and human resources can maximize this tool to engage the new employee in articulating the workplace violence prevention policy, explaining prohibited behavior, discussing situations, and emphasizing the value of responsibilities in reporting. This is an opportunity where company and the new employee establish a positive connection. Assumptions are dismantled through clarity. Remember, workplace violence is a microcosm of our society. Referring the new employee to the Employee Handbook will not clarify their assumptions of what is and isn’t.


As organizations grow in capacity or operate as larger organizations resourcefulness empowers innovation and creativity in the use of personnel. With a lot of employees, a lot of teams, and a lot of people and departments they can allocate, commit, and invest internal use of their workforce to conduct assessments, evaluate risks, respond to incidents more proactively and assertively.


Larger organizations and maybe midsize ones might have the flexibility to roll out dedicated workplace violence prevention personnel to ensure that things are moving along the right direction in support of the policy. They may even consider workplace violence prevention as a project, assigning a ‘project manager” assigned who makes sure needed follow up gets done effectively in alignment with the policy, guidelines, procedures, and timeliness.


“Terminations” are a necessary business function, but a difficult management decision that organizations must make. How they are conducted determines the outcome.  Having a separation or termination protocol in place gives aid and comfort to all involved that equity and justice are the objective of ensuring the employee is treated with dignity and respect as part of a professional process.


Workplace Violence Prevention is really a leadership function that facilitate activities in setting direction, aligning the effort, and coordinating teams and people to ensure they’re moving in that direction, motivating, and inspiring people at their core. Avoiding escalation and reducing negative emotions by containing problems and minimizing conflict is a leadership responsibility juries in civil cases like to see are in place. Leadership is the function that empowers any organization to maximize the moral and ethical responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace. Prevention is really an engaged workforce in organizations that integrates the effort, coordinates the process of prevention into a daily seamless effort through quality training assumed within the company culture. https://youtu.be/tNaQRAW0f0w


Listen to the full episode here. https://bit.ly/3f6QhUN
















































What If Your CEO Put You in Charge of Workplace Violence Prevention?

Posted on: March 1st, 2021

From all the literature and surveys on the topic of workplace violence, it’s clear that CEOs are truly worried about their organization’s workplace violence prevention capabilities in heading off a potential disgruntled employee active shooter threat or intimate partner violence/domestic violence workplace spillover that results in subsequent negative news coverage.

I bet they worry about whether their capabilities are designed to identify gaps in their efforts, the ability to recognize limitations in their resources, enjoy the ability to anticipate problems, understand how to take corrective measures and whether their policies are proactive or reactive. I bet CEOs worry about whether their own commitment is reflected in their budgets, their resources, their awareness, and their support for training.

So, you are the new Human Resource Professional at your company and your CEO calls you into his office to talk about the workplace violence prevention posture. The CEO is concerned about what’s in the news of late, wants to get a baseline of information to help him understand what his posture actually is. What is your baseline of knowledge? What is your reference point of understanding when the CEO ask you?

  • where are we with respect to our workplace violence prevention posture?
  • do we have a policy that adequately addresses the prohibited conduct and the OSHA 4 Categories of violence?
  • do we have a historical record of the type of incidents and can we track such incidents?
  • what are we doing to assess and evaluate potential at-risk situations and worksites?
  • what topics does the training address and is it providing a noticeable improvement and awareness?
  • are we capable of managing at risk situations?
  • what are the supervisor’s roles in intervention and prevention?

While you might have had some exposure to workplace violence prevention in the past, nothing has prepared you to the scope of this conversation with your CEO. And while the focus is on the HR Professional within your organization, the CEO could be having the same conversation with the plant manager, safety manager, risk manager or shift managers. He will not want to hear only that workplace violence related misconduct were resolved under Zero Tolerance where disciplinary action and ultimately “termination” were the solutions. He wanted to know what strategic role Human Resource was playing. https://naterassociates.com/human-resources-huge-role-to-fill/

As the HR Professional you might be familiar with the workplace violence prevention tools, support and guidance provided by the SHRM organization and you want to lead the way in your organization. Admittedly observe that you do not really have the experience or working knowledge to integrate, collaborate, coordinate, and communicate such resources and tools into an organizational response. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/Pages/Workplace-Violence.aspx

You have mixed emotions, but you take on the initiative by reviewing the SHRM’s Member workplace violence prevention resources and tools on their website. You find it a plethora of valued information and your confidence is emboldened.  

You see the meeting with the CEO as productive and an opportunity to seize the moment to establish a workplace violence prevention program no matter how limited. You are happy to have the CEO’s support. You proceed to acquire the resources needed and acquire the understanding of what workplace prevention entails. You discover  that workplace violence was a lot more than I had thought. It’s feels like a paradigm shift at a needed time in workplace and workforce safety and security. What better time than now to start applying risk mitigation, recognizing potential threats, discovering challenges, and dealing with the opportunities while the interest is high.

                                    You recall an old saying – “strike while the iron is hot”.

Your company is planning to return to work during the Covid-19 transitional period, but you will be operating at reduced workforce levels at your worksites while a major portion of the workforce will continue to work remotely or from their homes until further notice. It is an opportunity to get a lot done.  But a lot is going through your mind knowing that you are in different times calling for different tactics.

This gradual return to the workplace and the definite need to manage work from home and other remote venues mandates proactive thinking in how workplace violence prevention will be managed going forward. While it may not be a major restructuring or design, a diagnosis or assessment will be needed to assess the posture and show how workplace violence prevention gets implemented. It will be important to have a process as the workplace will be facing new threats from the disgruntled workforce returning to the workplace with a variety of emotional and psychological issues.

There will be conflict and opinions directly related to shelter at home, perceptions, restricted movement, post-election emotional fallout and CDC workplace related risk mitigation restrictions and mandates imposing their freedom. It will be a defiant workforce. The difference is with the CEO’s support, you no longer need to worry about resources at your disposal. https://naterassociates.com/covid19-return-to-work-risk-mitigation-challenges-and-opportunities/

You see it the time as NOW for your organization to strike while the iron is hot. You want to seize the opportunity to improve your current workplace violence prevention-security posture or may be even roll out something different that will obviously have the CEO’s attention if not support. You recall that OSHA is the authority on the subject from the SHRM website and decide to check it out. https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence

To help you implement your plans you search for a likely workplace violence prevention consultant, a partner. You figure that it might be a good idea to begin getting the right answers to your many questions. Why wait? Why not begin assessing the situation, addressing the approach? Why not use the time to meet with staff and supervisors to alert them of your organizational intentions with the consultant  present.

When discussing the initiative with staff and managers, you emphasize the importance of being proactive, the need to be empathetic and vigilant in resolving all issues now instead of waiting until there’s a situation that escalates or a surprise active shooter. The ingredients for the prospect of volatility are quite apparent.  You quickly learn that workplaces are in fact veritable lightning rods.

The threats come from a disgruntled current and former employee active shooter and the intimate partner and domestic violence workplace spillover are real and present threats.  You are convinced that both topics are preventable situations with an organizational response. You discover a plethora of resources limiting your excuses. You realize the significant role HR can play in implementing, coordinating and managing the effort.  https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence

You are interested in addressing both the current and future threats affecting your worksites and day to day threats posed by a disgruntled workforce subjected to CDC (Center for Decease Control) risk mitigation strategies and the OSHA 3900 Document. You anticipate conflict emanating from the CDC risk mitigation strategies that will strain workforce patience and coping skills.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/workplaces-businesses/index.html

You sense a melting pot of personalities, emotions, anxiety, anger, fear, confusion, and politics coming together in a post covid-19 and post-election work environment, issues you will have to deal with. It starts to become clear that there is a paradigm shift the HR professional may have to be prepared to deal with and represent as the organization’s focal point in managing the threat of workplace violence. The approach called for a thoughtful and considerate one. Discipline and “terminations” must not be the immediate or necessary solutions in every case unless you want to increase the unemployment rolls. Mental health will be dominant factor employer consideration


As the HR Professional, there are perceptions, impressions, opinions, false flags, misunderstanding and confusion about workplace violence and (school violence) prevention that will need to be rectified. You will need CEO and senior management support in getting their commitment and investment. You must understand the need and importance for applying warning signs, risk factors and contributing factors are prerequisites in any effective workplace violence prevention initiative.

You’ve read enough about potential myths like workplace violence is not preventable, workplace violence won’t happen here or even that background screening will help in identifying the potential insider threat. You want to add perspective.

You diagnose the significant challenge as one of understanding how best to approach workplace violence prevention in this new era. You confirm that not assuming, avoiding convenience and never being expedient (ARC Factor) are key in minimizing risk and managing threats. You caution your CEO and senior managers to avoid common phrases and vernacular. You discourage the CEO against viewing the “Covid-19 Return to Work” as a “new normal” yet, but encourage rather a “transitional interim” towards a stabilized period where Employers and the Workforce can see the light at the end of the tunnel in working together for the future. https://naterassociates.com/osha-general-duty-clause-workplace-violence-prevention/

In as much as Employers have a duty and responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace (OSHA Duty to Warn Clause) how it is achieved is not only a mandate but also a moral, ethical, and legal obligation. Providing for a safe and secure workplace can be effectively implemented through organizational engagement. You want to be logical, thoughtful, and as comprehensive as possible.

The paradigm shift being considered in this blog will have long-lasting positive benefit to the organization in creating trust, confidence, and respect in the employer’s intentional commitment. Employee perception of disparate treatment will drive the thinking and the behavior that fuels the emotional contagion, rationale, and justification to exact their vengeance.

It will be the role of the Human Resources Professional in alignment with others organizational leaders to create new skillsets in helping the Employer anticipate the challenges by being in position to intervene early. Emphasizing the importance of giving employee reports and complaints credibility that will aid in proper solutions early on and dispelling the notion that management’s only interest is discipline and “termination”.

So where would I suggest you begin as the HR Professional?  Since you probably know enough to get rolling, I would ask you to take a program manager view of how to go about establishing your approach.  One example of “HOW” in creating an effective workplace violence prevention posture is by building management credibility, confidence, and trust through the role of engaged supervisors.  Supervisors will need to become centers of influence that lead by example in being able to recognize the potentially volatile workplace environments, respond to issues and situations and make appropriate decisions. Having the HR Professional’s backing, the ability to manage threats and mitigate risks on the spot will be essential in containing escalation and managing risks.


  • recognizing warning signs, risk factors and contributing situations
  • learning how to manage situations
  • managing one’s behavior in managing the potential hostile workplace
  • discovering what being proactive really means
  • using and relying on organizational resources
  • leading with purpose
  • seizing the moment
  • assessing and evaluating situations on the spot
  • conducting comprehensive worksite specific assessments
  • reporting, advising, and informing all involved

Why a comprehensive worksite assessment in the first place? A comprehensive assessment could very well uncover gaps in the existing violence prevention initiative that could help thwart the next homicidal threat, workplace suicide or intimate partner workplace spillover violence. Gaps may include unintentional consequences of policies, procedures, protocols, access control, visitor management, separations and discipline and new employee screening. Comprehensive takes into consideration the worksite specific nature, policies, plans and procedures, technology, supervision, and training.

During this transitional interim period engaged and involved supervision will be key. Success will be predicated on management’s commitment to empathetic leadership while providing for a safe workplace in addressing inappropriate conduct through root cause analysis.  Treating employees with dignity and respect will take on a different meaning that shows sincerity, care, and concern for their well-being.

Author: Felix P. Nater, CSC Chief Security Consultant, Nater Associates, Ltd. is a retired U.S. Postal Inspector and current security management consultant with over 30 years of experience and expertise. Office: 704-784-0260 / Toll Free: 877-825-8101  https://naterassociates.com.

#Covid-19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation Challenges and Opportunities

Posted on: May 13th, 2020

Management must not begin to view the “Covid-19 Return to Work” as a “new normal” yet, but, rather a “transition interim” towards a stabilized period where Employers and the Workforce can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In as much as Employers have a duty and responsibility to provide for a safe and secure workplace (OSHA Duty to Warn Clause) how it is achieved is not a mandate but a moral, ethical and legal obligation. Providing for a safe and secure workplace can be effectively implemented through organizational engagement and cultural support.

Whether your business or an organization is a small, midsize or large size one, Employers having a workplace violence prevention mindset will advance the thinking and aid the approach to managing #Covid-19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation Challenges and Opportunities during this “emergence phase”.

Because you may have a different understanding, emphasis and approach to workplace violence prevention you may  not understand risk factors as important and may not find contributing factors as relevant as I may. However, both are important in prevention and mitigation. Managing risk during this “emergence phase” will be full of challenges and opportunities.

You are apt to find more frequent outbursts, verbal altercations and acts of defiance in preventing the feared surprise attacker (active shooter). Be prepared for the angry workforce as they return from periods of isolation and separations to encounter a workplace full of rules that seem more alienating and contributing to conflict.

Depending on what side of the issues you are on Covid-19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation may or may not present challenges or opportunities.  Consider it a “neutral zone” full of opportunity to assess and evaluate what the “new normal” might look like. A time where rules are not clear and new approaches are required.

Will you anticipate the challenge in taking proactive measures in looking for a proper solution or will you have a reactive, dam the torpedoes, full steam ahead attitude and miss potential risk mitigation opportunities?

Is there room for changing old paradigms of thinking and operating while still providing for a safe and secure workplace and contending with other business-security expectations?

How the Covid-19 Return to Work Risk Mitigation challenges are handled and how opportunities are strategized will depend entirely on empathy, thoughtfulness and effective leadership.  Building new approaches might dictate new ways of encountering business-security decisions, managing risks and preventing escalation of nonfatal acts of violence to more aggressive physical acts of violence.

Supervisors may be called upon to lead and give employees the benefit of the doubt. During this “emergence phase” “new normal” will task the Employer’s management and leadership responsibilities:

  • They will need to be responsible and accountable for their actions in not allowing situations to escalate.
  • Engaged supervision involved in anticipating problems, recognizing and responding to warning signs and understanding the impact of business issues on the workforce’s perception of the issues.
  • An organizational mindset may require understanding the significance of owning outcomes in minimizing risks by acknowledging unintentional consequences.

What if scenarios become more prevalent and relevant in forecasting impact on business decisions and actions.  If you are in Human Resources you might see convenient opportunities in addressing adverse personnel decisions and personnel reduction actions not possible before Covid-19 but imaginable  now.  A shift in thinking may create new opportunities to improve approaches to discipline and refine the way you “terminate” or separate employees.  You may find expedient solutions more practical today by the government mandated workplace closings that may include assumptions on downsizings, reorganization or not rehiring employees. Done correctly, employers might find workable solutions not available before the government mandated closings.

Employee perception of disparate treatment will drive the thinking and the behavior that fuels the emotional contagion, rationale and justification to exact their vengeance. 

Supervisors and managers will need to be centers of influence and lead by example in being able to recognize the potentially volatile workplace environments and have the backing and ability to mitigate risks on the spot.

Success will be predicated on management’s commitment to empathetic leadership while providing for a safe workplace in addressing inappropriate conduct through root cause analysis.  Treating employees with dignity and respect will take on a different meaning that shows sincerity, care and concern for their emotional and mental well-being.

If you are the safety or security manager you may find yourselves as “Ambassadors of Change and Influence”.  You might view challenges as new duties and responsibilities in addressing social distancing relating to workforce, customer and vendor interactions; support management decisions in the removal of employee(s) who indicated positive during the infectious decease screening process; and enforcing violations of the workplace violence policy in response to nonviolent volatile acts of violence (verbal outburst, yelling, screaming)  to name a few.

Until such time when “new normal” stability is gained, Covid-19 Return to Work may very well be the “new emerging threat”.

Workplace Violence Prevention will require a different mindset that engages with the workforce in finding amicable solutions rather than hasty swift actions to discipline and removal. Containment of emotional reactions will drive the need for management and workforce civility.

Enforcing the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy may take on a more compassionate approach in some incidents by addressing root causes and contributing factors before disciplinary action. In other words management may need to become more transparent in adjudicating workforce discipline so as to promote sensitivity and flexibility.

The “new normal” may require understanding of the unintentional consequences of new policy changes and personnel decisions affecting business and organizational reorganizations, consolidation and required learning of new functions. The transition from disgruntled to aggression may become more apparent and a frequent occurrence during these turbulent periods were VUCA concepts (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) may prevail and creating opportunities of their own.

Whereas prior to Covid-19,  Employers might have been more inclined to act swiftly on the disciplinary and separation process in addressing misconduct and acts of violence, during the “emergence phase”,  prevention and de-escalation may necessitate an empathetic response where appropriate before eventual administrative action is taken.

Because of the workplace turbulence and employee perceptions of unfair labor disparate treatment there will be a tendency for more frequent emotional outbursts. As such, there will be a need for supervisory training in aspects of workplace violence prevention that includes defusing conflict, de-escalation, warning signs, risk factors, contributing factors and issues around managing the potentially volatile workplace environment.

The real challenge awaiting Employers in this “new normal’ will be the employee perception of disparate unfair management decisions masked as Covid-19 Pandemic Return to Work Labor Management Employment actions. Being honest and above board could very well diminish anger and reduce frustrations.

The manifestation of frequent nonviolent acts of defiance and episodes of anger by employees will be more frequent in response to workforce reactions to disagreeable news.  In short, increased tensions will become more apparent and frequent as management and workforce resolve perception issues during this “emergence period”.

How will you respond to the Covid-19 Return to Work ‘new normal”? Will you be proactive or reactive?

Felix P. Nater, CSC is a security management consultant who helps Employers implement and manage workplace security strategy and policy with an emphasis on workplace violence prevention. He believes that workplace violence prevention is an ongoing process involving  multiple intervention strategies. He derived his experiences and consulting model while working as a Postal Inspector on U.S. Postal Inspection Services’ New York Division Violence Interdiction Team.

Contact Felix P. Nater at 1-877-valu101 or 1-877-825-8101. Visit his website www.naterassociates.com

Cyber-Culture: An Organization Imperative – What is Your Philosophy?

Posted on: April 7th, 2020

This Guest Blogger edition of the News & Tips to Combat Workplace Violence featuring Dr. Ken Ferguson will focus on the Cyber Security Threat from a Cyber Intrusion Management perspective. The purpose of my Blogs is to introduce correlations between gaps and vulnerabilities in workplace security and the potential threats posed by the disgruntled current worker or former worker whose intent is to get revenge without crossing the line of physical violence. Usually, workplace culture has some role in creating the vulnerability or gap that permits the disgruntled current or former employee and criminal intruder access to sensitive information and systems. While Ken’s initiative is aimed at more than malicious intent, he is certainly concerned with a conversion of the workforce from an intrusion threat to an effective barrier for successful intrusion.

Ken Ferguson and I will agree that no amount of technology, policies or procedures can prevent the malicious intruders from gaining access to sensitive systems and information. A process is mandatory. So, while technology is an important part of information and data protection, “Over-reliance on security technology can actually put an organization at risk because a large percentage of information security breaches are actually the result of faulty human behaviors, rather than hardware or software vulnerabilities” Robert Guba, (Engineering human security), 2008.

So what can organizations do to minimize the Cyber Security threat? Ken Ferguson is going to layout a perspective focused on culture and the human factor in aggressively protecting data and information from unwitting compromise by human errors of omission in creating a process that minimize gaps and reduce vulnerabilities and/or compromises. Sometimes the organization by its very desire to protect sensitive information and systems create voluminous procedures employees do not read and/or are not properly trained. The assumption is that the policy and the procedures are the solution.

In the following overview Ken Ferguson will share his experiences and expertise in articulating how an improved attention to a structured attention and management of cyber intrusion is the next major step in protecting organizations from the intentional threat and the unwitting human error.

“Currently, “people” can be characterized as a potential source of intrusion problem rather than a successful defense element. Successful phishing by hackers for example is one of the more common success channels for cyber intrusion.”

Improved cyber security is the next organization wide advancement needed by many business sectors of society as well as public sector agencies. This attention is comparable to other defining compelling attributes such as safety, reliability, quality, economics, and environmental management. As we know, Cyber-attacks are malicious threats by highly motivated individuals or organizations intent on disruption or criminal actions. The attack mode can be commonplace or extremely sophisticated.

Unlike many problems solvable by coordinated actions, cyber attackers will reconvene and develop new challenges. The implication of this ever present type of threat is that organizations need a constant vigilance against such cyber-attacks….never abandoning cyber attention just because.

The conclusion of Global Nuclear Associates (GNA) is that this vigilance is a “Technology and More” situation needing to involve an organization’s entire workforce trained, motivated, and accountable to be involved in cyber security attention.

This value added end state becomes a defining culture. The integrated attention leading to this end state is summarized as a Functional Cyber Culture (FCC). Cyber intrusion can be a threat to safety, business continuity, and other existential impacts. Transformation into an FCC outcome is described as follows:

Key Attentions of a Cyber-Culture transition. Systematic activity and inclusion of cyber security as an overarching attention and culture of an organization involves attention to a variety of involvements and attributes each of which needs to be addressed rigorously. The following are familiar considerations needing unique attention in cyber space:

PEOPLE. Cyber-Culture involves a new attention by the entire workforce and also assurance that its supply chain shares such a vital attention to cyber security matters. The new involvements and commitments will vary depending on organizational function and individual responsibilities and job descriptions, which may be changed in accordance with cyber attentions and responsibilities. Effective accommodation of a new culture attention involves the persuasion and involvement of individuals to add to and/or change daily work attentions. Any change is difficult for most individuals…transformation into a new culture can be especially difficult since the change is a “quantum leap” in nature involving motivated accountability coupled with the proper skillsets.

Currently, “people” can be characterized as a potential source of intrusion problem rather than a successful defense element. Successful phishing by hackers for example is one of the more common success channels for cyber intrusion.

TECHNOLOGY. Cyber threats are also a matter of technological warfare calling for a defense that also is technological in nature. Related attentions can include vulnerability assessments for a threat spectrum regarding key assets, monitoring of threats, intrusion diagnostics, as well as information management and sharing determinations and technologies.

Organizations need to have the internal capability or vendor arrangements to assure timely and accurate detection of cyber intrusions attempts which can be as frequent as daily. Proper staffing and training that enables timely and accurate analysis and responsive measures needs to be a defining characteristic of critical asset cyber protection.

WORK MANAGEMENT. The leveraging of responsive technologies and an effectively trained and motivated work force achieves successful results only if deployed in comprehensive work management details. This element of cyber attention success is the ultimate manner in which workforce attention is accomplished. Each work process needs to be comprehensive in itself and the collective set of work processes needs to be responding to a spectrum of cyber implications. Work management that procedurally invokes cyber security attentions, content, and related communications will result in doing business that incorporates this concern into an “everyday” attention of the workforce.

Work management and its associated work process need to have the ownership of implementers, clear, concise, comprehensive and commonly understood. Implications involve, for example, job responsibilities that include, planning, and daily operations. decision making, administrative support. Example: a design decision that traditionally included cost, reliability, and safety now needs to be assessed for cyber security implications.

Success in Instilling a Cyber Culture: Attention to Detail. As with most major organizational endeavors, recognition of all that is needed to be done is a first step requirement:

Cyber Infrastructure Implications. The successful approach to an effective cyber-culture involves a confirmation and/or enhancement of features already existent in an organization. These are attributes and functions necessary for carrying forward the three major attentions mentioned above. We refer to these relevant functions as cyber infrastructure. The evaluations involve (1) general effectiveness of each of these ongoing practices and (2) the extent to which these practices properly reflect cyber content.

Some examples of what constitute this infrastructure include:
– Training                                                                                  – Information Sharing
– Policies                                                                                    – Organization Structure, Hiring Practices
– Procedures                                                                             – Enterprise Asset Management
– Communications                                                                  – Procurement
– IT, Risk and Vulnerability Tools                                       – Quality Assurance
– Regulatory Interfacing                                                        – Program Management

Phasing for Success. As with many transition/enhancement actions, a phased approach is proper. Three basic phases will involve: (1) a gap analysis/current condition assessment, resulting in recommendations supportive of people, technology, and work management elements and infrastructure reviews results and then (2) an implementation phase involving prioritized inclusion of phase (1) recommendations.

For cyber culture considerations, a phase three attention is uniquely vital for success. This attention involves assessing and committing to and assuring long term effectiveness of a successful cyber culture. Examples of vigilance of this particular long term vigilance include (1) cognizance of emerging new threats (2) relevant emerging defensive technologies, and (3) awareness of relevant emerging regulations and industry standards.

Teaming for Success. Based on the above systematic approach and proper attention to detail, the following collaboration of skill sets /specialties are needed for effective cyber culture-transformation:

(a) Cognizance of the current organization’s relevant functions and effective cyber treatment
(b) Cyber security assessment tasks and technology
(c) Organization transitioning
(d) Infrastructure specialists
(e) Program management and Integration

Conclusions/Summary. Cyber intrusion is a permanent threat to a wide range of organizations. The challenge is unique but effective approaches can be planned and executed involving a range of attentions. A “Technology and More” approach is needed for effective defense of critical assets. Success is contingent on persistent commitment for the entire workforce, achieved by embedding a cyber culture and assuring its long term sustainability.

Ken Ferguson (ferg2@att.net) is available to discuss in more detail the challenges and successful attention to functional cyber culture readiness of an organization.




Lockdown Drills & Kids: Teaching Lifesaving Skills to Children of All Abilities…

Posted on: April 19th, 2019

As a workplace security consultant specializing in workplace violence prevention, what I do with the Client must create sustainability long after I am gone. Organizational resources must be considered when developing training content. The need to be as realistic must not outweigh the organization’s capabilities to sustain the effort.

School and workplace violence response strategies and tactics are important but at what expense? Should the “training approach” to active shooter be one designed around the means justifies the end or around creating the best retentive value around the execution of thoughtful programming that encourages and promotes quality training objectives?

Should those involved be traumatizing students, staff and workers for the purpose of making training as realistic as possible? According to the research the facts are not clear. In the 25 plus years I have been exposed to workplace violence and workplace violence prevention, it’s been my intentional desire to create training that stimulated learning and motivated retention of the content based on mutually collaborative experiences. The idea is to design training with organizational effectiveness in mind.

A recent “active shooter” drill in Indiana made my skin crawl. As someone who came from a military and law enforcement background, I was horrified to discover that local law enforcement officers told teachers to kneel along a wall while they were shot execution style with plastic bullets trying to demonstrate reality.

This is exactly what happens when corporate leaders and school superintendents fail to involve themselves in the decision-making process while leaving it up to others to decide what’s good for your school or workplace environments. Any role I may play as a security consultant must be predicated on organizational input and desired outcomes.

For example, how may reading this blog have been instructed on management responsibilities, prolonged lockdown issues, special needs and family support preparation considerations and planning related to an active shooter? Probably a few, maybe! You know why? Simply because there is a lack of experience based and knowledge centered training and consulting taking place today more than ever without specific facts.

In my interest to give the active shooter training challenge credibility and perspective, I am always seeking to find professionals with a unique and  thoughtful education and learning methodology that serves to create understanding and responsible actions.

In some instances schools are already described as prison comps by students, teachers and parents as environments that expose students to other risks, say parents who speak under anonymity. I don’t say eliminate the training but rather suggest that such training be thoughtful and deliberate.

This issue of my blog highlights the efforts of Guest Blogger Rachel Tepfer Copeland and her child’s experience during a preschool lock down exercise. You must know that my blogs often attracts direct phone calls from interested readers and concerned victims, witnesses and observers who have value to add, offer support and their services.

Rachel Tepher Copeland a Certified Child Life Specialist struck me as the type of guest blog contributor I desire to collaborate with because of the value and lessons that can be learned from such experiences, if we are to be a part of the solution in supporting the need for quality active shooter and lock down training moving forward.

Such training should not exploit the school or the workplace’s fears. It’s my opinion that active shooter drills marginally, if at all improve safety of teachers, students and workers, while exposing them to mental trauma and physical injury. The decision to bring in local police trainers or to hire the expert consultant should be predicated on past performance, knowledge of content, delivery capability and desired outcomes. There are states like Iowa, Florida and South Carolina and others interested in passing laws requiring these drills in public schools. I agree with the training need but disagree with the mandate for a variety of reasons implied and addressed in this blog.

Here’s Rachel Tepher Copeland and her preshooler’s experience for your information.


One afternoon I went to pick up my son from preschool and he was very obviously shaken and upset. A generally chatty guy, I was concerned when he had a difficult time telling me what had happened.

The most I could gather was that the class had played a strange game where the children had hidden in the dark behind backpacks. Then it dawned on me, it was a lock-down drill. The more questions I asked my son, the more concerned I became. We quickly turned the car around and headed back to speak with the preschool director of the highly vetted private preschool he attended.

After further conversation, I found that my son had become scared, overwhelmed and upset during the drill because he did not know or understand what was happening. He did not feel comfortable hiding with the class in the tight quarters and became upset. In an effort to make him more comfortable, the teachers removed him from the bathroom and placed him, alone, in the darkened classroom.

He was told to hide behind a backpack located right next to the large window and to stay there until someone came back for him. Then the teachers went back inside the bathroom with the other children and locked the door. I was furious. I was heartbroken. But more than anything, I was scared.

As a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2004, my job has always been to talk to children about scary and overwhelming situations and make them easier to understand. Reading books to children is an amazing way to take something terrifying and make it relatable, especially for the very young. Social stories are one of my favorite means of preparing children for difficult situations. I love social stories because they are perfect for children of any ability, as they are a positive, empowering story written in first person language, which encourages and empowers children to learn new difficult skills.

After my son’s horrific experience, I searched everywhere for a book with easy to understand directions that would be appropriate for my son to learn about lock-downs and how to keep himself safe. However, no matter where I looked, I could only find books for much older children.

There was nothing age appropriate or all-encompassing in a social story format. Additionally, all of the resources I found discussed option-based teaching (i.e. run, hide, fight).

While these are sometimes successful options for adults, options-based teaching is neither developmentally appropriate nor feasible for young children or children with special needs.

After searching the market and finding it bare, I decided to write my own book for my son. Originally, I created a single copy of the book I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown just for him, however, after another major school shooting occurred only miles from our home, I decided to self-publish it and make it available to anyone who might also find it helpful.

I Can Be A Superhero During A Lockdown is now an Amazon best seller and has been endorsed by several safety organizations, including Safe and Sound Schools and Safe Havens Interventional.

I am proud to have created a resource that helps to decrease anxiety while also teaching children of all developmental abilities how to remain safe. My website, RachelTepferCopeland.com , also provides tips and information for parents and educators about lockdowns.

My son is very proud of the book we have created- in fact the main character is a cartoon replica of him. He no longer has issues during lockdowns and was able to complete a drill successfully without any problems.

Many children, however, are not as lucky. While necessary, lockdown drills themselves cause trauma to young children—the recent viral picture of a child with a goodbye note written on her arm to her parents only one example.

As educators, parents, safety professionals, and professionals that work with children, we need to remember that providing age appropriate and child-friendly information to children about what to expect and how to respond is respectful of children, their feelings and needs.

To ignore the situation, to assume that it is just like other drills that children complete regularly or to compare it to duck and cover drills of more seasoned parents’ youth is not the same.

A recent Washington Post report revealed that during the 2017-2018 school year alone, over 4.1 million children enduring a lock-down drill. Over 220,000 of those children were in pre-school and kindergarten. We have the choice of either preparing our children in advance or dealing with the after affects of the trauma they suffer.

I’ve chosen to preemptively prepare my child and to teach him what to do if he was to ever face a true active situation. We all have a choice to make. We can either sit around and read about the horrific things that are happening in our company and wonder “when are things going to change? When is somebody going to do something about that?!”

Or we can each realize that we ARE somebody. Teaching young children how to keep themselves safe while decreasing anxiety is something that you can do right now. And there’s no day better than the present to make a difference, and maybe even save some lives.


It’s my opinion as a workplace security management consultant specializing in workplace violence prevention that students and employees should not be exposed to physical or traumatic injury just to create a training reality. Such training should be tied to the organizational prevention strategy that takes all of the related issues into consideration as life survival immediate protective measures.

They should be designed to educate and prepare those involved to respond appropriately in a way that empowers them to react with a measured sense of command and control of their situation. A dad of a middle schooler told me that his son told him that it made no sense to run back to his classroom when it made more sense to exit through the nearby doors.


Recognizing Our Leaders Within The Ranks

Posted on: November 5th, 2014

In this Blog post, I want to deviate from my normal ranting and raving about my magnificent obsession with my workplace violence prevention and security consulting practice and take a moment to promote the essence of a special person who came into our lives just a few short years ago.

We know him as Dan Forbes, Forum Leader of Lead With Giants. I desire to refer to him as a Leader among Giants. I relate to Dan’s intensity and commitment to leadership because my consulting model in founded on the notion of accountable leadership in preventing workplace violence and enhancing workplace security. 

From the beginning, during our initial dialogue, I sensed Dan Forbes had a vision and a destiny as large as his LinkedIn Group Lead with Giants.  But I wanted Dan to share his perspective, tell his story and share his vision so that we might all gain a deeper appreciation for his mindset and how goal oriented he is.  And how purposeful he was in creating a community of leaders who would one day find themselves in a position to uplift others.

 Here is Dan Forbe’s story on My Blog simply because I adore his dedication, fervor and devotion to the community of leadership and his endless energy for helping us achieve our dreams.

The Vision of the Lead With Giants Community is to raise up 10,000 Uplifting Leaders. Meet the Community here http://LeadWithGiants.com  The name for this Community was inspired by the words of Sir Isaac Newton in 1676: “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.” 

This idea is a perfect metaphor for leadership. We might ask the question, who sees farther the leader or the follower? That is, who is most important? Both are!  We all can learn from the wisdom of the leaders around us and become better leaders ourselves. Due to their leadership we grow wiser and lead better, but not because we are better. We are all in this together.

What Is Uplifting Leadership? There is enough so called “leadership” that disempowers, discourages, and disappoints. On the other hand, Uplifting Leadership is:

inspirational – It moves others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become.

aspirational – It springs from a strong desire to lead and help others grow and develop as leaders too.

– intentional– By design it deliberately focuses on others. For, to lead is to serve; to serve is to lead.

– purposeful – Uplifting leaders are determined to make a positive difference. Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”

I am a Leadership Coach, Advisor, and Consultant who helps professionals, business owners, and individuals accelerate their success. 

Dan, it has been my esteemed pleasure to interact with you through the Lead With Giants Group. Even when I did not offer any commentary of my own, the breadth and scope of the knowledge were incredible teaching examples proving leaders come in all walks of life and from diverse experiences and expertise.  Thanks for sharing your perspectives and your vision. Carry On My Friend. 

           ~ Learn more about what Dan Forbes does  at http://LeadWithGiantsCoaching.com ~