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Archive for category Domestic violence
This guest blog contributed by strategic partner and workplace violence and security consultant, Felix Nater of Nater Associates, LTD with offices in North Carolina and New York.
New OSHA Directive Tackles Workplace Violence Concerns…What Are You Doing About It?
In the last 15 years, deaths resulting from workplace violence have ranked among the top four causes of occupational fatalities in American workplaces. In response to this serious threat to worker safety, OSHA released a new compliance directive on Sept. 8. 2010 that offers procedures for agency staff who respond to workplace violence cases or complaints. Caution is always recommended in assuming that compliance is prevention. If you don’t educate compliance merely becomes another checklist.
While incidents of Workplace Homicides are down, incidents of non violent acts have increased. Workplaces should not only look at the homicidal reasons for why employee might “go postal’ but for contributing factors and the unintentional consequences of workplace policies and the unknown risks of such overlooked threats committed by non violent employees (harassment, sabotage to systems and operations, product contamination, theft of sensitive information, compromise of proprietary information, theft of services, identity theft, work slow down etc., etc.,).
Recent acts of defiance by non violent people are your employees. Such behavior gives rise for concern in our workplaces from groups who might resort to non violent act of retaliation as described above. Do not make the assumption that just because the defiance is focused on the financial community or away from the workplace that, the frustrations of victimization at large can’t find their way into the workplaces. When it comes to justification and rationale, I have seen the gamut in terms of the behavior and reasoning.
Workplace Violence Prevention Policies and Plans can better serve the workplace in identifying potential contributing factors and at risk situations through collaboration and integration of resources. Violent prone employees become so by their workplace, environmental and societal experiences or perhaps even changes in their mental well being. The lead-in to acts of homicidal vengeance is a methodical choice that, I think is based on their brand of rationale and justification. Exploiting workplaces by the non violent employee doesn’t involve decisions of life and death but ones of retribution and retaliation against organizations that have the financial capability to withstand the threat. The non violent threat can become more destructive if the rationale is tied to the businesses capability to withstand the risks.
Take the implementation of Workplace Violence Prevention and Security Awareness seriously. Begin the process by conducting thoughtful workplace risk assessments. The assessment should include security and business practices alike. Include employees in the process by utilizing surveys that attempt to uncover signs of disgruntled behavior or conditions exacerbated by supervision and management business practices. Reduce existing security gaps in your current operations. Institute countermeasures that provide as early warning signals of problems on the rise. Support employee victims and complaints who come forward. Aggressive monitor and respond to employee hotline or complaint lines. Create an impression that the leadership cares,
Don’t assume that non violent acts of workplace violence will not rise to a level of concern because you will find yourself asking why you didn’t take preemptive measures early on. Know that this threat’s capability is unknown but devastating in terms of impact on many; including the organization’s production, perform standing and reputation along the way.
Take the following 10 steps NOW to minimize your risks and identify contributory practices and procedures:
- Be proactive.
- Implement credible reporting systems.
- Educate supervisors and managers on recognizing at risk situations.
- Conduct a thorough workplace violence risk assessment.
- Review existing security management and emergency preparedness measures.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your emergency evacuation plans.
- Train your workforce on the consequences of violent and non-violent acts.
- Hold all employees accountable and responsible for engaging in or failing to report at risk situations.
- Conduct annual facility and employee assessments.
- Include workplace violence prevention in your New Employee Orientations.
I had the opportunity to read Stop Signs authored by my friend Lynn Fairweather who is a threat assessment and domestic violence expert. As a personal safety trainer and consultant and father of two daughters, I was particularly eager to read this book and share the “golden nuggets” with them and those I interact with on a professional level.
I found this book to be well balanced. While I have read several books on domestic violence, I have never seen one as comprehensive as Stop Signs. The book is segmented into three equal parts devoted to recognizing, avoiding, and escaping dating / domestic abuse and violence. It therefore applies to all women: those who have never been abused, those who are currently being abused, and those that have left an abuser.
This book serves as a resource, a safety plan, and offers self-help empowerment all in one. It is an intuitive read and also gives voice to survivors in dialog boxes that are strategically placed to drive home the teachable moments. This style is in keeping with Lynn’s “lived experience” as she too is a survivor of domestic violence and is therefore able to bring a personal as well as a professional perspective to the topic.
Who should read this book and keep it on the shelf as a domestic violence resource? Anyone from a mother with young daughters, to someone in an abusive relationship all the way over to a threat assessment / security professional or HR personal in the corporate sector.
The book is available at Amazon.
Lynn is the founder and president of Presage Consulting & Training, an Oregon based organization specializing in fatality reduction through threat assessment and management.
Lynn’s contact details appear below.
Lynn Fairweather, M.S.W.
Presage Consulting and Training
The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence is a national nonprofit organization founded by businesses with a mission to address domestic violence as a workplace issue.
Below are some very sobering statistics and facts on the troubling issue of partner violence and its impact on the individual and workforce.
What can you as an employer do and where should you start? At the bottom of this article you will find a link to the “six steps” that the Corporate Alliance suggest for creating a successful domestic violence in the workplace policy. (PDF Format)
So how does domestic violence impact the workplace?
Here’s some insight from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- In February of 2008, the CDC released the most comprehensive US survey regarding intimate partner violence – 23.6% of women and 11.5% of men reported at least one lifetime episode of intimate-partner violence.
- According to the CDC, intimate partner violence victims lose a total of nearly 8.0 million days of paid work a year—the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs—and nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of the violence.
- The cost of domestic violence to the US economy is more than $8.3 billion. This cost includes medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity (e.g., time away from work).
And some additional insights into productivity losses:
- Researchers from the University of Arkansas found that women who were victims of recent domestic violence had 26 percent more time lost to tardiness and absenteeism than non-victims.
If you think that this does not happen to people who work, think again. The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence did a national survey of full-time employed adults, and found the following:
- 21% of the full-time employed adults polled identified themselves as victims of domestic violence; 64% percent of them indicated their ability to work was significantly impacted
- 31% of co-workers felt obliged to cover for a co-worker who as a victim; 38% of co-workers were concerned for their own safety
What about abusers? The Maine Department of Labor found that:
- 78% of surveyed perpetrators used workplace resources to express remorse or anger, check up on, pressure, or threaten their victim
- 74% had easy access to their intimate partner’s workplace
- 21% of offenders reported they contacted the victim at the workplace
And why is it that victims don’t just leave?
- In cases of homicide related to domestic violence; 75% of the time it is when the victim is leaving or has left the abuser. This means leaving is potentially VERY dangerous for a victim—a victim who may be your employee.
What about workplace safety?
- Domestic violence coming to the workplace accounts for 24% of workplace violence incidents (BLS, October 2006)
So why should employers care about this? If you haven’t already gotten the sense (and there is more information available in the Facts and Stats section of our website):
- It is an absenteeism issue
- It is a productivity issue
- It is a turnover issue
- It is a presenteeism issue (this means you are present, but not really focused and able to work)
- It is a workplace safety issue
And who in your workplace is potentially impacted by domestic violence coming to work?
- Abusive person
- Family member
So what can an employer do?
There are the “six steps” that we suggest at the Corporate Alliance for creating a successful domestic violence in the workplace policy. Click here to take you to our site from which you many download the PDF.
Kim Wells may be reached at 1-309-664-0667 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eastside Domestic Violence Program(Greater Seattle Area)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it could not be any more serendipitous that it is on the first day of this month that I finished reading the book “Serrated” co authored my good friend and strategic partner, Stephanie Angelo of Human Resource Essential, LLC
“Serrated” is the story of Tracy Stombres, a survivor of domestic abuse and violence that culminated in the stabbing death of her mother Vina.
Vina bled to death as she tried to protect her daughter Tracy from her husband, in what amounted to the attempted murder of Tracy herself.
To read this book and fathom not only the violence that was inflicted on Vina and Tracy is one thing. To try and grasp that Tracy’s young son Alex would be witness to this carnage is another.
Domestic violence happens “everywhere”. It knows no socio economic boundaries and manifests in many ways from verbal abuse, control over finances to isolation from family and loved ones, all the way to actual physical violence. Domestic violence is not something that happens “to other people” who live far away that we “just see on the news.”
This book took me from an intellectual grasp on the gravity of this issue to an intimate understanding of “a day in the life of” a battered woman. Better stated, this book connected the dots for me between what we term abuse and how often this coverts to violence. Violence that often times ends in brutal murder.
Tracy Stombres is a survivor in the true sense of the word, clichéd or otherwise. Her strength to pull herself up and start all over again so many times over, is beyond me. Her ability to find her way through the fog of the brutal attempt on her life that left her own mother dead is profound.
Somewhere in Tracy’s story lies a lesson for all of us. For me it is gratitude for the good fortune I have experienced in this life. More importantly, to share with you a story that I hope compels us as a society to step up to the plate and bring an end to this cycle of violence we have brushed under the proverbial rug for way too long!!
Within ten days of presenting on this topic at a safety conference, I awoke to read about the senseless slaughter of thirteen at Fort Hood, a story which dominated the news for some time.
It is worth pointing out that on the day of that massacre, an apparently disgruntled ex employee walked into the building he had worked in two years earlier and opened fire, killing one and wounding five, a story that didn’t quite make it onto the front page. This happened in Orlando Florida.
Just four days later and also lost in the fog of the 24 hour news cycle, was a shooting that occurred on the premises of a business in Tualatin, Oregon leaving one dead and two wounded. This was a case of domestic violence spilling over into the workplace as a man shot his ex wife.
Perhaps most bewildering is how rapidly the sobering nature of these so called “low probability” yet “high impact” events fade from memory as we return to our busy lives, with so many of us yet again not implementing an emergency plan of action for such an occurrence!
Which barrier to “awareness and preparedness” is at play here; apathy, complacency or denial?
I have been on the receiving end of gunfire albeit not in a work environment. More terrifying than the gunshots was my distinct awareness of how unprepared I was for such an event. This lead me to freeze up like the proverbial “deer in the headlights” as I tried to comprehend what was going. Valuable seconds ticked by before I stopped thinking and actually began to react. I was lucky to get away unscathed.
It is usually how we react during the very first few seconds of a shooting incident that will dictate our chances of survival. Those who have rehearsed a plan will bypass the thinking process and react since a response framework has already been ingrained during training. Those who don’t will be in my situation. Gripped by fear and desperately trying to think their way through the fog of the moment, brain awash in adrenaline.
Here are few facts to keep in mind and some tips to consider:
According to Homeland Security most of the damage is done within the first 8-15 minutes of an active shooting. Law enforcement usually will not arrive until this time period has elapsed meaning for those first crucial minutes all you will have are each other and any action plan you have put in place, or not.
If you have several panic buttons strategically placed within your facility you will be able to sound the alarm sooner in a situation in which every second counts.
If you have practiced retreating to designated “safe rooms” such as offices with heavy locking doors, your staff will be more efficient during an actual retreat. Taking note of all “hard points” behind which to take cover is also important. (Shelter in place)
Once in a “safe room” it is critical to keep quiet, put cell phones in vibrate mode, turn off the lights and not draw any attention to your position.
Similarly if you have if you have determined that exiting the building is your best option, having walked the routes during a drill will make for a more efficient egress. Muscle memory is crucial.
Of equal importance is knowing where you will NOT retreat to. An example is the bottom of a stairwell you arrive at only to find leads to a permanently locked utility exit door?
Exits should be constructed so that they cannot be easily blocked from the outside such as with a nearby wheeled dumpster or vehicle as was the case in the shooting at the immigration center in Binghamton N.Y. in April 2009
Redundancy during a high stress situation is always preferred. This is particularly important when designating people who will call 911, even if the panic button has been pushed. If you have facilities at other locations they too need to be alerted.
It is also important to know how to react to the responding SWAT team who will be barking out orders and moving through your facility very aggressively. In the confusion of the situation an innocent employee’s finger pointing to where the threat came from could look like a gun in hand!
DHS also suggests offering your local SWAT team the option of practicing in your facility after hours. This gives them an opportunity to sharpen their skills and you a closer relationship with the very agency that would be tasked to responding were there ever an incident at your company.
Even a well thought out rudimentary plan is better than no plan at all. At this very moment it is not a gunman that is our biggest threat. It’s the three enemies of “awareness and preparedness”; apathy, complacency and denial.
Resource: Department of Homeland Security Actives Shooter PDF