Standard Guides Organizations in Preventing Workplace Violence


By Kathy Gurchiek October 20, 2011
Employers looking to implement policies and practices that help them prevent workplace violence and intervene more quickly when it does happen have a new standard to guide them.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and ASIS International—formerly the American Society for Industrial Security—issued a joint Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention American National Standard in October 2011.

It is designed to help organizations evaluate their practices and develop or enhance programs aimed at workplace violence. It defines the recommended scope of an organization’s efforts to prevent and manage workplace violence; describes the key stakeholders within an organization who will be responsible for this issue; delineates the components of a workplace violence prevention and intervention program; outlines intervention techniques, and addresses post-incident issues, according to SHRM and ASIS.

“HR and the security communities have created an enduring and comprehensive approach for business professionals to manage the risk of violence and to better assure the safety of employees,” said Lee S. Webster, SPHR, GPHR, who is SHRM’s director of HR standards.

Are Steps Adequate?

This standard can help HR practitioners evaluate whether their organization “is taking sufficient steps to protect employees from a wide range of problematic behaviors that can compromise workplace safety,” stated Rebecca A. Speer, Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard Committee chair.

Members of that committee created the standard using the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) census development process, which included a letter ballot vote and ANSI public review, before ANSI approved it as an American National Standard.

The committee was made up of people with backgrounds in security, HR, law, and law enforcement, academia, occupational health and safety, and psychology and psychiatry. The standard went through a voting process, public review and a comment resolution process before being adopted by ANSI.

“It helps to answer the tough questions many security, HR and legal professionals need to ask: Are we doing enough, and more importantly, are we doing the right things?” she said in a news release.

The standard is the latest effort developed by task forces that are creating national- and international-level professional standards for handling HR operations.

Other standards have addressed HR Performance Management, Measures and Metrics, and Diversity and Inclusion. cost-per-hire metric standard has gone through the public review process; the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) is expected to adopt it by the end of 2011, Webster said.

ANSI is a private, nonprofit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems. In 2009, it named SHRM the exclusive national developer of HR standards for the United States. Additionally, at ANSI’s direction, SHRM is serving as secretariat for all of the HR standards task forces, overseeing administrative needs and making sure that standards are developed in accordance with ANSI directives and procedures.

The standards are business tools, not just HR tools, Webster said in a SHRM Online article about the need for task force members to develop standards. Webster oversees the formation of the task forces.

The workplace violence prevention and intervention standard was developed by a task force made up of people working in the security, HR, mental health, law enforcement and legal fields, according to SHRM and ANSI.

Two new task forces for developing standards are expected to be formed by the end of 2011, Webster said. Those likely will deal with employee relations and HR compliance. Persons interested in serving on a task force can fill out an application and obtain more information by clicking here.

​Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News.

Related Articles:

Technical Advisory Group Formed to Create HR Standards and Act as Standards Advocate, About SHRM, March 2011

SHRM to Craft U.S., Global HR Standards,HR News, February 2009

Task Force Members Needed to Develop HR Standards,HR News, September 2010


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