6 Steps for Conducting Effective Workplace Violence Investigations

A threat management company shares a checklist for establishing comprehensive investigation processes for workplace violence.

6 Steps for Conducting Effective Workplace Violence Investigations

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In 2020, there were 37,060 nonfatal injuries in the workplace resulting from an intentional injury by another person, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Service occupations, which include healthcare support, accounted for about 50% of all nonfatal intentional injuries by another person that required at least a day away from work.

The occupational group with the second-most nonfatal workplace injuries that required at least a day away from work was healthcare practitioners/technical occupations (23%), followed by educational instruction/library occupations (14%). Since workplace violence is unfortunately commonplace for those who work in healthcare and education, it is critical that campus security leaders ensure comprehensive investigation processes are in place to protect employees.

Ontic, a software provider offering campus violence prevention training and tools, created a checklist it says “empowers teams to recognize risk factors, triage, streamline investigations, take proactive measures, and create consistent, compliant incident reports with recommended actions to address concerns and support ongoing analysis.”

The more detailed checklist can be found here. Below is a truncated list.

Step 1: Establish systems and processes

  • Define who/what needs protection (executives, employees, customers, visitors, office buildings, parking lots, travel, residence)
  • Consolidate connected systems data (vehicle, visitor management systems, access control CRM, case management)
  • Centralize research and monitoring tools (criminal, civil records, OSINT, social media, dark web, local news reports, localized crime data)
  • Review and update policies to support gathering and storing of information and intervention

Step 2: Monitor and identify potential concerns

  • Continuously monitor connected systems for sources of threatening or concerning behavior
  • Monitor unusual alerts from connected systems
  • Review alerts from adjacent systems
  • Identify early indicators of violence or behaviors of concern

Step 3: Identify the person of interest (POI)

  • Capture the basic who, what, when, and where details
  • Screen the concern and determine if it meets the team threshold for investigation
  • Assign lead investigator and initiate investigation workflow

Step 4: Gather information about the reported concern and make an assessment

  • Conduct a threat assessment to determine if the person of concern is on a pathway to violence
  • Collect supporting information to identify a POI and examine their history, current concerning behavior, and any other information that could be beneficial for the team to know and understand
  • Collect relevant information from individuals to understand the concern, the timeline in which it occurred, who was impacted, and what parts of the business were disrupted, if any
  • Collect supporting information from community/outside sources: Law enforcement, mental health, community stakeholders

Step 5: Manage the person/situation and reassess regularly

  • If a pathway to harm (self, others, or both) is identified, implement mitigation strategies
  • Take any appropriate management actions based on security, HR, and risk management input to contain or mitigate the threat
  • Notify leadership team and expand notifications as needed 

Step 6: Analyze data, metrics, and trends

  • Track investigation data across a wide variety of variables
  • Build custom reports against any collected data field or emerging threat signal to gain investigation insights
  • Define document retention period to ensure you’re legally compliant and to guard against the re-emergence of issues

Earlier this year, Campus Safety interviewed Dr. Marisa Randazzo, executive director of threat management at Ontic, about workplace violence in healthcare and in schools. Check out those interviews here and here.

To read more Campus Safety articles that discuss workplace violence, visit campussafetymagazine.com/tag/workplaceviolence.

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About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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