How to Draft a Workplace Violence Policy Statement

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: February 21st, 2012
Topics: Workplace Violence |

Although there’s no OSHA standard on workplace violence, Best Practices dictate that you implement a written program setting out the measures and procedures taken to deal with the problem. One of the essential elements of such a program is the inclusion of a written Policy statement expressing the organization’s commitment to protect workers and outlining the features of its program. Here’s how to create one. (Click here for a Model Policy Statement that you can adapt.)

The Process of Creating a Workplace Violence Policy Statement

As with hazard assessment, policy development should be a team effort that engages all levels of the organization from management to the workers on the front lines as well as their representatives.

The Policy statement should also be signed by somebody in the upper levels of management and reviewed at least once a year. The Policy should be posted in a conspicuous spot(s) and included in HR handbooks and orientation kits given to new workers.

Explain What You Mean By “Violence”

One of the trickiest parts about drafting workplace violence policies is defining what violence is and what the policy covers.  So, the first issue you should tackle is hammering down a definition.

Best Practices:

  • Define “violence” to include both use or threat of physical force and non-physical acts such as aggressive behavior, bullying, harassment, intimidation and other conduct that affronts the dignity or poisons the work environment.
  • Define “workplace violence” to includes any of the above forms of violence directed against employees by either outsiders like strangers and customers or co-workers; and
  • Clearly state that  “workplace violence” can occur either within the 4 corners of the workplace or offsite, e.g., in client offices or while employees are traveling in their cars.

How to Create a Model Policy

Our Model Policy includes the elements a good Policy statement should. While you should never, ever adopt any off the shelf policy word for word, model policies are great to get you started if you don’t have a policy or to use as a benchmark to judge the soundness of your own policy if you do have one.

Make sure the Policy is authored by management and: Management should issue a written statement that:

  • Expresses the company’s recognition of the harmful effects of violence and the rights of employees to work in an environment that’s physically and emotionally healthy;
  • Expresses the company’s commitment to invest the resources necessary to protect all employees from violence at work;
  • Includes a clearly stated definition of “workplace violence” in accordance with the analysis in the section above;
  • Explains the responsibilities of different groups for carrying out the Program, including management, supervisors, security personnel, if any, and employees themselves;
  • Reassures employees of their right to report incidents or threats of violence without reprisal or retaliation;
  • Clearly states that acts or threats of violence will not be tolerated and that those who author them will be held accountable and face discipline up to and including termination even for a first offense.