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Post-incident procedures and services
  • Identifying the root cause of the indecent and taking immediate steps to help those affected is crucial to the success of the prevention program.
  • Treatment and strong follow-up programs for employees who have been victimized and traumatized should be immediate.
  • The five basic steps to investigating the report should begin as soon as the immediate needs are taken care of.

Post-incident response and evaluation are important components to an effective violence prevention program. Thoroughly investigating incidents of workplace violence provides a roadmap to avoiding fatalities and injuries associated with future incidents. The purpose of the investigation should be to identify the “root cause” of the incident. Root causes, if not corrected, inevitably recreate the conditions for another incident to occur.

Immediate first steps

When an incident occurs, the immediate first steps are to:

  • Provide first aid and emergency care for the injured worker(s), and
  • To take any measures necessary to prevent others from being injured.

All workplace violence programs should provide comprehensive treatment for workers who are victimized personally or may be traumatized by witnessing a workplace violence incident. Injured staff should receive prompt treatment and psychological evaluation whenever an assault takes place, regardless of its severity — free of charge. Also, injured workers should be provided transportation to medical care.

Victims of workplace violence could suffer a variety of consequences in addition to their actual physical injuries. These may include:

  • Short- and long-term psychological trauma;
  • Fear of returning to work;
  • Changes in relationships with coworkers and family;
  • Feelings of incompetence, guilt, powerlessness; and
  • Fear of criticism by supervisors or managers.

Follow-up programs

Consequently, a strong follow-up program for these workers will not only help them address these problems, but also help prepare them to confront or prevent future incidents of violence.

Several types of assistance can be incorporated into the post-incident response. For example, trauma-crisis counseling, critical-incident stress debriefing, or employee assistance programs may be provided to assist victims.

Whether the support is trauma-informed or not, counseling should be provided by:

  • Certified employee assistance professionals,
  • Psychologists,
  • Psychiatrists,
  • Clinical nurse specialists, or
  • Social workers.

Alternatively, the employer may refer staff victims to an outside specialist. The employer may establish an employee counseling service, peer counseling, or support groups.

Counselors should be well-trained and have a good understanding of the issues and consequences of assaults and other aggressive, violent behavior. Appropriate and promptly rendered post-incident debriefings and counseling reduce acute psychological trauma and general stress levels among victims and witnesses. In addition, this type of counseling educates staff about workplace violence and positively influences workplace and organizational cultural norms to reduce trauma associated with future incidents.

Investigation steps

Once these immediate needs are taken care of, the investigation should begin promptly. The basic steps in conducting incident investigations are to:

  1. Report as required. Determine who needs to be notified, both within the organization and outside (e.g., authorities), when there is an incident. Understand what types of incidents must be reported and what information needs to be included. If the incident involves hazardous materials, additional reporting requirements may apply.
  2. Involve workers in the incident investigation. The employees who work most closely in the area where the event occurred may have special insight into the causes and solutions.
  3. Identify root causes. Identify the root causes of the incident. Don’t stop an investigation at “worker error” or “unpredictable event.” Ask “why” the worker responded in a certain way, etc.
  4. Collect and review other information. Depending on the nature of the incident, records related to training, maintenance, inspections, audits, and past incident reports may be relevant to review.
  5. Investigate near misses. In addition to investigating all incidents resulting in a fatality, injury or illness, any near misses (defined as a situation that could potentially have resulted in death, injury, or illness) should be promptly investigated as well. Near misses are caused by the same conditions that produce more serious outcomes and signal that some hazards are not being adequately controlled, or that previously unidentified hazards exist.