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Work Place Violence & Critical Incident Management

Managing critical workplace incidents, primarily those dealing with actual or potential violence, is a top SWOSU priority. Issues generally involve delicate balances between rights, responsibilities, and compelling University needs such as: employee safety; public safety, and the continued performance of required duties. A rapid and coordinated response to such incidents is necessary.

Violence, or the threat of violence, is not tolerated in any University work location. It is the goal of the University to rid the workplace of any violent behavior, or the threat of such behavior. It is the shared obligation of all employees, employee organizations, Human Resource Department and the SWOSU Campus Police to individually and jointly act to prevent, or defuse, actual, or implied violent behavior at work.

Possession, use, or threat of use, of a deadly weapon, including all firearms, is prohibited at work, or in any campus building. Weapons of any type are forbidden to be carried in University owned, or leased vehicles. The only exception is law enforcement and state authorized persons.

Warning Signs Of A Potential For Violence

There are no precise profiles that fit every individual who is prone to workplace violence. However, before violence occurs, there is often a pattern of escalation, during which one or more of the following signals may be given. These do not mean the employee will be violent, but they should heighten concern:

  • Threats of harm
  • Intimidation of others
  • Excessive interest in weapons
  • Paranoia
  • Moral righteousness
  • Inability to take criticism
  • Desperation over recent personal problems
  • History of violence
  • Fascination with incidents of workplace violence
  • Disregard for safety of co-workers
  • Obsessive involvement with the job, often with uneven job performance and no outside interests
  • Being a loner, and having a romantic obsession with a co-worker

Stressful workplace events, such as layoffs, termination, and labor disputes can also increase the likelihood of violence.

Ways Of Preventing Potential Violence

Workplace violence can strike even those employers who have planned for it. The violence that now pervades the United States workplace knows no bounds, striking large and small employers, employers both benevolent and authoritarian in their management styles. Even those employers with an outstanding record in labor-management relations have faced violence of the threat of violence under many different circumstances. The situations encompass violence from current employees, from intruders, including former employees, stalkers or individuals involved in a domestic dispute, sexual harassment, or clients angry with the University's provided services. Another recent concern to universities are active shooters. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Encourage employees to report incidents
  • Decrease pressures caused by environmental, personal and organizational stress
  • Provide employee training
  • Advise of counseling services available
  • Evaluate hiring procedures
  • Provide a healthy work environment
  • Examine security as well as emergency procedures