WORKPLACE VIOLENCE (Lesson 26 of 33)
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT IN THE GREAT MAJORITY OF CASES, A THREAT WILL NOT LEAD TO A VIOLENT ACT. THE THREAT ITSELF, HOWEVER, DAMAGES WORKPLACE SAFETY AND MUST BE RESPONDED TO.
A good threat assessment will thoroughly analyze:
- The exact nature and context of the threat and/or threatening behavior
- The identified target ( general or specific )
- The threatener’s apparent motivation
- The threatener’s ability to carry out the threat
- The threatener’s background, including work history, criminal record, mental health history, military history, and past behavior on the job Clearly, there are characteristic signs to look for in evaluating a threat and a threatener, but an assessment must not turn into a mechanical process of checking off items on a list to see if someone fits a predetermined “profile.” Every case should be examined and evaluated on the basis of its particular nature and circumstances.
Every employer and organization will have to develop their own structure and procedures for threat assessment and response, depending in large part on the resources available.
Large companies may find the necessary expertise in their own security, medical, human resources, legal, and employee assistance departments. Smaller organizations may have to seek outside help from law enforcement, mental health, and social service agencies, and other professionals.
Such contacts should be established beforehand and an up-to-date contact list maintained so company officials know whom to call when assistance is needed.
It should be noted that, typically, threat assessments will be conducted by a psychologist or psychiatrist specifically trained to evaluate a potential risk of violence.
Both legal concerns and practical limitations often will render it inadvisable to seek threat assessment evaluation from an employee assistance program, security, or mental health professionals who lack training in this area.