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Workplace violence

Incidents of violence in workplace settings happen all too frequently. Unfortunately, workplace violence within credit unions has evolved significantly to include robbery, active assailant/shooter situations, domestic situations, abusive employees, and even member and visitor behavior.
Two men walking together past a woman sitting at a table

Prioritizing violence prevention efforts is not only the right thing to do, but also required under OSHA’s General Duty Clause: Section 5(a)(1). The clause requires that all employers provide a work environment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” This unquestionably includes workplace violence.

Workplace violence can leave an indelible mark on an organization and working through the risks and preventions controls can be a daunting task.

More workplace violence information

  • Having a workplace violence policy and/or program in place sets the tone from the top that employee safety is a top priority and violence will not be tolerated. This policy should apply to employees, members and third parties and clearly list the type of conduct prohibited.

    The policy — acknowledged and signed by all employees, volunteers, and board members — should include:

    • Who is responsible for monitoring issues?
    • The manner in how investigations will be investigated and by whom.
    • A statement indicating retaliation is not tolerated.
    • Possible disciplinary measures.

    In addition, you should have a procedure in place to address red flags in the behavior exhibited by employees. While behaviors such as depression and angry outbursts do not automatically mean one is prone to violence, these red flags allow for interaction at an early stage and possibly prevent a situation from escalating later.

  • Strong training can make a tremendous impact in reducing workplace violence. The most effective training programs are tailored to the organization and focus on offering solid procedures to follow and tactics to use.

    Be sure to adopt procedures for emergency preparedness for emergencies including robbery (including action steps before, during, and after), active shooter incidents, bomb threats, extortion attempts, and other emergency evacuations.

    Providing annual robbery training (and as part of your orientation program for new hires) will help staff prepare from a before, during, and after perspective. Robbery training should include acknowledging guests as they enter the credit union, confidentiality, opening and closing procedures, testing of alarms, when to alert the authorities, and how the authorities will respond once they receive notification of a robbery.

    Sadly, training employees for potential active assailant/shooter situations has also become critical. This training should be significantly different from robbery training as it expands upon the employee's situational awareness and focuses on taking immediate action to protect oneself through run, hide, and fight tactics.

  • Documenting suspicious behavior on your premises whether it is an interaction with a member or something observed in or around the office is important. Recording specific circumstances and key information can alert you to the need for further investigation or monitoring.

    Ensure it is clear who should be made aware of suspicious behavior, so follow-up activity or decisions such as contacting law enforcement can be made.

  • An abusive member or office visitor who actively chooses to raise their disappointment until they reach foghorn levels of abuse can be very confronting and unpleasant for your employees.

    Having steps in place to take when members become abusive will assist staff in knowing how to proceed. Member behavior can vary from angry behavior, hostile/abusive behavior, verbal abuse, nonverbal abuse to violence. Knowing the type of consistent action to take can be vital to diffusing these situations.

  • Ultimately, it’s the credit union’s decision on whether to impose restrictions on allowing weapons on premises, subject to state law. TruStage maintains its long-standing position that weapons do not belong in the workplace whether the carriers are employees or members — based solely on the commitment to member and staff safety.

    Credit unions wishing to restrict weapons on their premises should research state weapon and firearms laws to determine if they can prohibit firearms, and if allowed, the necessary steps to take to do so. Some states require private businesses to post specific signage prohibiting weapons including firearms within buildings or on the premises.

    With legal counsel assistance, your credit union may also develop a written policy prohibiting employees, members, contractors, and vendors from carrying weapons during their employment or when in the credit union. The policy should be board-approved, and all employees should sign an acknowledgment that they received and understand the policy. This policy should be incorporated into the credit union’s personnel policies & procedures.

  • Unfortunately, we often hear stories of an uncomfortable situation involving domestic abuse, verbal abuse, or situations related to geopolitical events — most recently COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic protocols/vaccinations, and civil unrest making their way into workplace.

    Having appropriate need-to-know staff (HR, Supervisor, and C-Suite level employees) aware of ongoing situations or threats can help mitigate workplace violence (e.g., employee assistance programs or law enforcement notification) and assist with the welfare of an employee.

  • Stress in employees' lives including situations at work (assignments, projects, deadlines, co-workers, and change in general) and their home life (parenting, partners, school, drugs/alcohol, and gambling) can become overwhelming for employees. An employee assistance program can be valuable to seek help or counseling while emphasizing employee wellness.

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Related resources:

Access the Business Protection Resource Center* for exclusive risk and compliance resources to assist with your loss control efforts.

Robbery Risk Planning Overview*

Active Assailant Incident Risk Overview (Leader/Manager Resource)*

Opening and Closing Procedures*

Abusive Members Risk Overview*

Weapons in the Workplace*