As our October series, “What Would You Do,” concludes, we’d like to discuss a real-life incident, involving real people, in real danger, and provide some real solutions.
Here’s the background:
Carlos from Venezuela moved to this country about five years ago. Having completed courses in hotel hospitality at a local college, as soon as he came to the “States,” he started looking for a job at nearby hotels. He soon found a position.
That’s the good news. What followed next turned out tragic.
Once he began his position, it was clear that some of his co-workers were unhappy that he had been hired. He knew they were making sly remarks about him behind his back, but then one of his co-workers approached him and said what everyone else had been thinking:
“Why don’t you go back to your country?”
He’d heard comments like this in various settings when shopping in a grocery store or walking downtown. Carlos learned the best thing to do was ignore it and move on.
But at the hotel, the remarks continued. Then, one day, one of his co-workers followed him into the parking lot. An argument ensued, and his co-worker stabbed him.
Even with the stabbing, which turned out to be quite severe, Carlos was able to fend off the attacker and carry himself back into the hotel. Paramedics were summoned. He survived.
Addressing the Challenges of Real People in Real Danger in Real Life Situations
But how could this hotel, or any other workplace, have prevented this in the first place? Among the suggestions by TAL Global security consulting experts are the following:
Prevent and prepare: The hotel has an obligation to keep a safe and secure workplace. Making sure this happens requires planning and preparation and a focus on prevention. In this case, the hotel policies and procedures needed to include a workplace violence prevention and management program and workplace violence training so these types of incidents could be prevented or handled in a systematic, documentable, and defensible way.
Act: Per the OSHA General Clause, companies are responsible for keeping a workplace “free of hazards.” In this case, a management representative knew about the problem and did nothing to resolve it. There is likely significant liability in a situation like this.
Zero-Tolerance: Many organizations still do not have a zero-tolerance workplace violence policy. And even in business settings with such a policy, co-workers may need to be made aware of it. Those days are long over. According to OSHA:
Every employer should establish a zero-tolerance workplace violence prevention program [and] incorporate the information into an existing accident prevention program, employee handbook, or manual of standard operating procedures. It is critical to ensure that all employees know the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly.
As mentioned above, this can be accomplished by having a workplace violence prevention and management program.
Educate: Workplace violence does not mysteriously climb out of the woodwork. Invariably, there were warning signs, and in Carlos’s situation, everyone, including the hotel manager, was aware that a problem was brewing. Never hope that things will somehow resolve on their own. All staff should be educated on recognizing potentially violent situations and reporting them to management so that something can be done about them. Managers and supervisors, along with others in leadership positions, need separate training to have a deeper understanding of workplace violence and what to do if it is reported to them, as well as how to prevent it, mitigate it, or manage it, always working to keep issues at the lowest possible level.
Threat Assessments: Threat assessments are another tool that can be very effective when dealing with a threat or assault, even an incident already underway. A threat assessment is an investigation of the situation by security and behavioral health subject matter experts, who will determine the credibility of the threat and the level of risk it represents. A threat assessment also helps develop a strategy to resolve the issue and bring things back to normal as quickly as possible, limiting liability exposure and helping ensure the workplace remains safe and secure.
There are two other kinds of security assessments that should be conducted to help ensure a safe and secure workplace for real people and all people in a workplace setting:
- A physical security assessment involves thoroughly evaluating all security measures currently in place at a facility by a security expert. This helps to identify gaps in security and ways to fix those deficiencies.
- A risk assessment goes further. It is a process of identifying, analyzing, and evaluating risks to an organization or individuals in that organization. It is used to determine the likelihood and impact of potential events and to develop strategies to mitigate or eliminate those risks.
What’s Best? Our best suggestion, especially when it comes to real people in real life situations is this:
Contact a security firm that specializes in preventing and managing workplace violence. Their expertise in identifying, mitigating, and managing workplace violence can save lives, prevent injuries, and open your business doors.
Oh, as for Carlos, he was able to move on. He soon found a much better position at another hotel.
TAL Global is an elite security, consulting, and risk management firm that protects human and physical assets around the globe. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org