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Mass Shootings Spur Interest in Reducing Incidents of Workplace Violence

Mass Shootings Spur Interest in Reducing Incidents of Workplace Violence

Do your employees feel safe at work?

According to a recent article in Business insurance, there have been over 600 annual mass shootings in the United States in each of the years 2020-2023. Additionally, there have already been 63 mass shooting incidents over the first two months of 2024. Needless to say, extreme incidents of violence are a major problem in this country, and employers and legislators are taking notice of the dangers of mass violence.

Throughout history, societal trends have spurred legislative action, and the disturbing increase in violent incidents has led state legislatures such as California to enact laws requiring employers to enact plans and conduct training for their workforces with the goal of reducing the number of incidents of workplace violence. While troubling news certainly has led to employer paying more attention to workplace safety, the financial implication has been an increase in investment in active assailant insurance.

Employers are Investing in Active Assailant Insurance

According to the Business insider article, active assailant insurance “can cover a range of exposures, including victim compensation and support, legal liability, property damage and business interruption.” While it is natural for employers to invest significant dollars in the protection of their financial assets (after all, businesses are in business to make money), it is fair to question whether a 30% increase in insurance spending is disproportionally allocated when compared to investment in workplace safety education and planning programs (in those places where such plans and education are not mandatory).

Workplace Violence Education Shows Quality Return on Investment

According to a National Library of Medicine study, “education that focuses training on effective communication and de-escalation skills increases participants’ awareness of how their own emotions and approach in interactions . . . can influence the risk of violence.” The study found that “mixed-methods approaches to [violence prevention] education . . . strengthen[s] . . . knowledge of interventions to prevent and mitigate workplace violence.” Where employers choose and implement a strategy that is focused on understanding the skills necessary to not only survive a tragic incident, but also to improve communication and de-escalation techniques, there is a correlation with a decrease in violent workplace incidents.

Legislation Appears Headed in the Right Direction, but Perhaps with the Wrong Focus

California Labor Code section 6401.9 is sweeping and comprehensive. It requires nearly every employer operating within the state to create a detailed, written plan for the prevention of workplace violence. The law also requires employers to conduct annual training on the plan, and it lists a number of required elements (mostly focused on the administrative components of the law). The only section truly aimed at aiding employees in preventing violent incidents is instruction on the identification of specific workplace hazards. When following the advice of the National Library of Medicine study, mere compliance with the California law (and its related healthcare cousins in a variety of jurisdictions) may avoid civil penalties and fines from the state government, but it might not truly prevent violent incidents. Since workplace safety should be priority #1 for all employers, it is important that we go beyond compliance with the California law, and merely look to it as an impetus for doing better.

Syntrio’s Course Goes Beyond Compliance

Syntrio has a philosophy that every employee who takes its courseware should come away with skills that apply well beyond the workplace. Our new, California-compliant workplace violence prevention course not only contains all of the elements required by the California law, but also contains prevention strategies, de-escalation techniques, bystander intervention tactics, and other key tools that will help employees not only stay safe when a mass incident is going on, but also prevent smaller (yet destructive) incidents before they escalate into a larger situation. Syntrio’s employee-focused courseware will leave learners with a thorough understanding of the topic, knowing what to do and whom to report concerns.

How Can We Help?

Syntrio welcomes the opportunity to partner with your organization on creating a program for the prevention of sexual harassment at work. As an industry leader in online harassment prevention courseware, we have decades of experience at making a difference in this important area. We pride ourselves on breaking from the norm in corporate education. Please contact a member of our staff today to learn how Syntrio can help make a difference in your workplace culture, and find out why we are a provider that breaks the negative stereotypes about online training.

Since 2007, Jonathan has practiced labor and employment law on behalf of management. Jonathan focuses his practice on advising employers on the prevention of harassment and discrimination issues, with an emphasis on providing in-person harassment training programs to companies of all sizes. Jonathan is licensed in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and maintains a national advice practice.

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