Five Points to Remember About Workplace Violence
1. UW Workplace Violence Policy
UW Policy states: “The University of Washington is committed to providing a safe, healthful workplace that is free from violence or threats of violence. For purposes of this policy, workplace violence is any violent or potentially violent behavior that arises from or occurs in the workplace that affects University faculty, staff, and students.
Individuals who engage in violent or prohibited behavior may be removed from the premises, and may be subject to dismissal or other disciplinary action, arrest and/or criminal prosecution. This policy applies to all work locations including offices, work sites, vehicles, and field locations.
The University takes reports of threatening or violent workplace incidents seriously. Employees, supervisors and managers are expected to follow the University of Washington Workplace Violence Report/Response Procedure to report actual or alleged incidents of violence in the workplace.”
Tip 1 – Prohibited behaviors aren’t necessarily illegal. We have a purposefully low threshold.
Tip 2 – If you know of something that might affect the safety of you or your coworkers, you have an obligation to report it to your supervisor, and your supervisor must report it to DAR Human Resources.
2. Continuum of Behaviors
Violence often results when a problem builds up without resolution over an extended period.
- Trust your instincts, if you are afraid, there is a likely reason for your fear
- Watch for warning signs
- Observations that are concerning should be reported
Early warning signs
- Not typical prohibited behavior
- Increased distress
- Increased agitation (pacing, wringing of hands, staring)
- Decline in self care, hygiene
- Decrease in productivity
- Attendance problems
- Use of drugs and/or abuse of alcohol
Tip 1 – Listen, empathize, suggest resources, and stay alert.
Tip 2 – Life comes to work sometimes. Increase awareness, get involved to the level you feel comfortable.
Tip 3 – The risk of not responding far outweighs the risk of reporting, even if it turns out not to be serious.
Increased Distress Signs
- Inability to concentrate
- Overreaction to a situation
- Poor impulse control (throwing, shouting, slamming, kicking)
- Conflicts with coworkers, supervisors, customers
- Intimidation, belligerence, harassment or other inappropriate behavior
- Withdrawal from friends and acquaintances
- Talk of self harm or suicide, feelings of worthlessness
- Desperation over family, personal, financial/legal issues
Tip 1 – Maintain a position of respect, and do not criticize. Ask for help.
Tip 2 – Immediately report it, remain calm, and manage your personal safety.
What is Violent Behavior?
- Any behaviors (deliberate or spontaneous) that cause danger to self, to others, or cause damage to property, including:
- Making threats of violence or causing fear
- Suicidal or homicidal statements
- Destruction of property
- Pushing or hitting
- Displaying or using a weapon
- Out of control (yelling, flailing arms, throwing objects, screaming)
3. Workplace Safety Plan
How can you be prepared?
- Talk about concerns with your unit
- Create a plan
- Create a code word
Ex: Ask a coworker for “the white file” and he or she will know that there is a suspicious person in the office and will call the police.
- Revisit once a year
- Review safety plan with your employees
- Report concerns with your supervisors
4. Reporting Requirements
- If you know something that may affect the safety of you or your coworkers, you are obligated to report it
- Individuals are required to report incidents to their supervisors or call 685-SAFE
- Supervisors are required to notify the head of the unit and DAR Human Resources
- Confidentiality vs. reporting requirements
- Be direct “I can’t guarantee anonymity, but will I do my best to protect your privacy…”
- Safe Campus Hotline 685-SAFE
- Workplace Violence Assessment Team
- CareLink – licensed counselors
- Human Resources
- Attorney General’s Office
- CareLinkCareLink – licensed counselors
- DAR Human Resources
- EPT – Emergency Responders, your greatest asset; all trained by UW Police Workplace Violence Awareness Office
For more information on the UW Workplace Violence Policy, please visit Human Resources’ Website.
CareLink (APS Healthcare) is a resource for UW employees which provides services such as counseling, legal advice, financial planning, and many other resources. The counseling is a professional and confidential service, offered free for the first few sessions. CareLink is not just for family and work issues, it covers a broad spectrum of other topics. Call Monday through Friday to schedule appointments at 1.866.598.3978, or call the 24/7 Crisis Services line at 1.800.833.3031. You do not have to be alone during the difficult times in your life.
206.685.SAFE (7233) Seattle Campus
425.352.SAFE (7233) Bothell Campus
253.692.SAFE (7233) Tacoma Campus
1.800.833.3031 for 24/7 Crisis Services
UW Police Department
Non-Emergency: 206.685.UWPD (8973)
National Lines (24 hours)
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
King County Lines
Washington State DV Crisis Line
Abused Deaf Woman’s DV Crisis Line
Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN) Crisis Line
New Beginnings Crisis Lines
Washington State DV Recorded Information Line
Alcohol/Drug Abuse Help Line
206.722.4222 For Teens
877.345.8336 For Teens
King County Sexual Assault Resource Center
888.99VOICE (998.6423) 24 hour Crisis Line
Pierce County Lines
DV Victim Services
Snohomish County Lines
Dawn Crisis Line
Sexual Assault Resources
Harborview Sexual Assault Center
Abused Deaf Woman’s Sexual Assault Crisis Line
Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Information Service (SARIS)