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The first step to preventing violence in the workplace is to implement a workplace crisis plan that sets forth a policy against threatening and potentially violent behavior and outlines a course of action that emphasizes awareness and communication of any potential workplace crisis. The fundamentals of a no-nonsense violence-prevention or crisis program are: � Issue a formal statement that the company is concerned about violence in society that may filter into the workplace, and that the company intends to take immediate action to provide a safe and healthful work environment. � Set zero tolerance for violent words and acts in the workplace. � Encourage employees who experience or witness workplace violence to immediately report it to a designated management official. � Take prompt remedial action up to and including discharge against any employee who engages in any threatening behavior or acts of violence, with security or policy protection available at termination and afterward. � Ensure that no reprisals are taken against employees who report or experience workplace violence. � Notify law enforcement personnel or security immediately if customers or visitors engage in violent or potentially violent behavior. � Make clear that zero tolerance extends to firearms or other weapons on the employer’s premises. � Make use of referrals to the company’s employee assistance program of anyone who displays a violent tendency or aggressive behavior, or who makes offensive comments or remarks. � Introduce more comprehensive background screening for applicants because the best predictor of future violence is past violence. � Instruct employees in techniques that enable them to recognize conduct likely to lead to violent behavior. � Consider using employee surveys to identify risks and suggest how security measures can be improved. � Designate a treat-assessment team — comprising representatives of senior management, security, operations, human resources and other vital areas — to develop guidelines, evaluate the effectiveness of existing security measures, and develop clear goals and objectives suitable to the company’s size. Donald F. Burke is a principal in the Labor and Employment Law Group of the Baltimore office of Semmes, Bowen & Semmes. His practice involves representation of management and all facets of human resource-related matters.

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