The power of Documentation in Preventing WPV
You may be asking why I am talking about documentation in a blog that should be concerned with workplace violence (WPV). And how documentation can prevent an incident, or at the very least lessen its impact. The answer is very simple. These next 2 blogs are things that can have a great and negative impact on the company and all employees. Maybe not today, tomorrow, or even next week, but it will have an effect if an employee (ex) walks in and wants to harm you and the other people in your business at the time. And you have to remember that some employees take more than 2 years to return (Motra Transmissions – Phoenix, AZ. 2005).
Documentation may be one area that makes all employees and supervision very uncomfortable. With that statement, let me elaborate on it. First, However, you must start with teaching your employees that anything that is even potentially, no matter how remotely it may seem, threatening must be documented in detail AND original verbiage so that it can be handled by either HR or management.
This is an area that can become very uncomfortable for many people, and the reasoning is simple. If an employee makes threats or is otherwise harassing co-workers, then the exact verbiage, with no asterisks i.e. Son-of-a-b**** mother-f******, must be written down. It is unfortunate, but even if that employee uses all kinds of vulgar language and expletives the reporting employee/supervisor must write it down, in the exact way it was said i.e. Son-of-a-bitch and mother-fucker. There are several reasons for this.
The first and foremost is the offending employee must then defend what they said to HR or a manager. There can be no wiggle room in the meaning of any words that were spoken. This may be uncomfortable for many people to do or listen to. If they are religious then it will be against their religious precepts. And even if they aren’t particularly religious it offends some to use such language. But which is worse, not saying/writing these down or watching someone suffer and potentially die because they didn’t act properly?
But if the employee is terminated or dismissed because of this incident then they can argue, possibly successfully, that they didn’t say that and they mean’ to say this instead. This will throw doubt on the testimony of the co-worker into question. If that happens, then it may be thrown out and the dangerous employee reinstated.
If you seriously doubt that this would be the case, I urge you to look at recent arbitration cases in the news for stupidity. There are more than a few cases that came up before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission *EEOC), and in the courts that can be classified stupid and ruled in the favor of the offending employee for several reasons more trivial than wrong wording!
When talking about documentation you also have to have the date, time, and place where the incident was heard. If the co-worker over-heard it in the lunch room, then it must be stated that it was there at (you can’t overstate the idea of using this term) approx. 12:15 PM on January 8, 2015. And it doesn’t matter where they heard it, even off duty. If they over-heard a conversation in a bar by the employee concerning their co-workers, then it must also be stated as such.
While it may be embarrassing for the co-workers they must be willing to write it down and report when they can. To not do so may endanger the lives of many other co-workers and the actual business itself. And if they were doing something nefarious themselves, then they will have to ‘out’ themselves no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Documentation is one of those vitally necessary things to prove in a court of law that you followed every possible recourse and that the employee was destined for termination. All incidents involving employees-the fights, arguments, and so on must be documented every single time, even if it fills reams of paper. The supervisor needs to gather names of witnesses, exact times and dates, and what was said including the exact verbiage used.
Will this be a pain the ass for everyone who has to document? Of course it will. Can it potentially save lives? Absolutely. If you knew if you got an oil change today would save you from your car breaking down on the I-680 in San Francisco during rush hour, would you do it?
If you would like an example of a supervisory note of a threat, harassment, or similar write me and I’ll send you one that I personally wrote about 10 years ago on a security officer I was managing. Send to Oneistooomany@aol.com
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, blogs, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
His latest book ‘one is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace violence is available for numerous e-book formats. It helps all organizations to reduce their risk and limit their liability of an incident. And it does this by breaking the rules in several ways, as well as following conventional wisdom in others.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Oneistoomany Here you will see and read about other items related to WPV/SV as well as incidents you may not have heard or thought about.