Every year nearly 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence, which is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), corporations spend in excess of $36 billion each year on remediating after effects of workplace violence, such as lost productivity and medical costs.\u00a0 However, studies have shown that when an entity has provided training and implemented policies to prevent threats and violence, the incident rate has significantly decreased.While no policy can avert all workplace violence events, the best risk management strategy combines a combination of sound protocols, access to expert professional resources, and quality insurance coverage.PreventionThe most effective prevention methods identify and address potential problems early. Though no policy or theoretical framework can predict human behavior, workplace violence generally breaks down into four broad categories, with differing motives and triggers:Violence by Unknown Individual with Criminal Intent \u2013 the perpetrator does not have a relationship with the business, and the primary motive is usually theft.Violence by Known Customer \u2013 the perpetrator has some preexisting relationship with the business\u00a0but becomes violent while interacting with it.Violence by Employee \u2013 the perpetrator is a current or former employee, and the motive is revenge for some perceived wrongdoing.Violence by Associated Party \u2013 the perpetrator does not have his or her own relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with someone associated with it.This knowledge, combined with the pillars of prevention below, can mitigate the potential for violence or prevent it altogether.Hiring practices- Every organization should implement a hiring process that emphasizes pre-employment screening and background checks. These should always include:Adequate drug\/alcohol screening and criminal background checks.Interview questions that can elicit signs of anti-social personality\u2014for example, any instances when the candidate \u201ccreatively bent the rules to get the job done.\u201dReference checks with former employers, including the question, \u201cIs there any reason we should be concerned about this person from a workplace violence standpoint?\u201dMandating of outside contractors to adequately screen employees before placing them in your workplace.Understanding risk factors- The following factors can contribute to negativity and stress in the workplace, which, in turn, may precipitate problematic behavior. Such factors include:Understaffing that leads to job overload or compulsory overtime.Frustrations arising from poorly defined job tasks and responsibilities.Downsizing or reorganization.Labor disputes and poor labor-management relations.Poor management styles (arbitrary or unexplained orders; over-monitoring).Reprimands (corrections delivered in front of other employees, inconsistent discipline).Inadequate security or a poorly-trained, poorly-motivated security force.Lack of employee counseling.Frequent grievances, which may be clues to problem situations in a workplace.No particular profile exists to indicate whether an employee might become violent, but employers and employees alike should remain alert to problematic behavior that could point to possible violence. Alerting behaviors can include:Personality conflicts (possessing a history of disagreements and problems with supervisors or coworkers)Mishandled terminationIncidence of bringing weapons to workDrug or alcohol useTendency to hold grudgesHistory of domestic violenceTraining and policy- All employees should know how to recognize and report incidents of violent, intimidating, threatening, and disruptive behavior. All employees should have phone numbers for quick reference during a crisis or an emergency. In addition, workplace violence prevention training for employees should include the following topics:Organization\u2019s workplace violence policyEncouragement to report incidents and the procedures for escalationTactics for preventing or defusing volatile situations or aggressive behaviorDiversity training to promote understanding and acceptance of co-workers and customers from different, races, sexes, religions, abilities, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientationsTactics to placate hostile personnelTechniques and skills to resolve conflictsStress management, relaxation techniques, wellness trainingPersonal security measuresPrograms operating within the organization that can assist employees in resolving conflictsResponseCrisis response plans are most effective when tailored to the needs and resources of a particular employer and workforce.\u00a0\u00a0 Instances of workplace violence, unlike any other hazards or disasters, are dynamic by nature, develop rapidly and feature a dangerous and unpredictable human characteristic.A comprehensive crisis plan is vital to an entity\u2019s resiliency during and after an incident. When developing a crisis response plan, an organization should consider the following:Identify and define a crisis incidentUnderstand the warning signs and protocols to initiate the crisis planPrepare for the incidentConduct threat analyses, vulnerability assessments and security audits on a regular and ongoing basisReview, update\u00a0and validate all emergency and crisis response plans across functional disciplinesEstablish safe areas within the facility for people to assemble and seek refuge during a crisisDevelop crisis communication strategyFactually assess situations to determine commensurate levels of communicationCommunicate facts and updates about the situation quickly and accuratelyProvide timely protective action guidance to employees, as appropriateTraining and PreparednessTrain employees in incident warning signs and appropriate actions to take in crisis situationsUnderstand and socialize immediate actions to take in a crisis, medical or relocation (evacuation) situationUnderstand and socialize lockdown and shelter-in-place protocolsConclusionIn approaching policy and procedure development and implementation around workplace violence prevention, training and response, enterprises should prioritize understanding of specific risk factors. By focusing on threats, which might exploit gaps in your current security and workplace violence programs, and assessing their relative impact on economic, operational or personnel losses, you will be able to identify and prioritize specific areas requiring mitigation and additional governance.