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.

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.

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.


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.


  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.

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.

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.

One Response

  1. […] 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.… […]

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