De-Escalation Part 1

In this Part 1 Introduction to a growing and alarming problem of violence in America, we want to call your attention to the observable actions occurring in our workplaces, airports, airplanes and even restaurants.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA as they are often referred to, tells us that over 2 million American workers fall victim to some form of violence each year and homicide is the second leading cause of job-related deaths.   Thus, our goal in this series is to understand the scope of workplace violence, recognize any warning signs and learn how to de-escalate potentially violent confrontations.

As an employer, and under OSHA’s general duty-clause, we have a well-defined responsibility to provide a workplace “that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”  Thus, employers have a right and responsibility to establish and enforce a zero-tolerance policy that will not condone or permit any threats or acts of violence.

Workplace violence is defined as any threat of physical harm including harassment, intimidation or any other behaviors that create an uncomfortable workplace where employees are fearful for their personal safety.

Violence can and does happen many times without warning and can involve co-workers, customers, clients and even strangers.

There are many excellent resources that can provide guidance in this challenging arena.  Some of what will be presented in this Express Pro Talk video comes from the Crisis Prevention Institute.

In this series, we also want to discuss power struggles, de-escalation tips and finally how to set limits which has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to redirect the conversation and diffuse a potentially violent situation.

So, What Are Some Examples of Violent or Threatening Behavior?

  • Verbal abuse which can include name-calling
  • Indirect threats like misappropriating someone’s tools
  • Direct threats where the perpetrator threatens an act
  • Extreme threats threatening life ending actions, and
  • Violent actions like pushing punching or striking someone

Some of the Warning Signs include:

  • Fascination with weapons
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Severe stress
  • Anguish over employment decisions
  • History of violent incidents or behaviors
  • Psychological deterioration
  • Decreased or inconsistent job performance
  • Becoming socially isolated
  • Significant deterioration in personal hygiene
  • Any noticeable personality changes

Now let’s talk about a Manager, or Leader’s Role in Preventing and Defusing Violence.

  • A Manager, Leader acting as the “Agent” should know their employees well and be aware of any significant personal changes.
  • They must have the ability to “anticipate” future actions based on the observable behaviors previously listed.  As Agents….. managers & leaders are held to the legal standard of “knew or should have known.”
  • Any of the mentioned behaviors and acts should be reported by the Agent to their immediate superiors consistent with company policy.
  • Agents should also have knowledge of security measures in the workplace including both physical and written policies.
  • And finally, Agents should be knowledgeable in intervention techniques which we will be covering in the following parts.

So, stay tuned for more critical guidance in our next Talk.

And if you should need quick or additional clarification or instruction, don’t hesitate to contact your local Express office.  Until next time, this is Russ Moen for Express Pro Talks.