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Business Continuity Tips for Recovering from a Workplace Violence Incident

By Matt Donahue | Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Recovering from a scene of workplace violence can be a tricky situation. Not all situations would necessitate the need to activate business continuity plan/procedures.  But for the situations that do, it is important to be able to account for employees, communicate, assist/provide resources and resume business operations as quickly and sensibly as possible.
BCP Checklist
OSHA defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.


During instances of workplace violence, it is important that employees can react to obstacles or changes in the evacuation plan - whether it be utilizing an alternate route on your way out or going to the secondary evacuation site. In some instances, such as with an active shooter, choosing not to evacuate and exposure yourself to the shooter can be the safest decision. Managers/floor wardens who are tasked with ensuring employees have exited the building need to be able to complete their jobs to help building management and responding agencies have a better understanding of how many people might still be in danger.


The ability to quickly and effectively communicate can have a significant impact on the perception of your organization to your employees, clients, response agencies, and the public.  Some incidents may only require a message sent to the involved parties and their supervisors, while other events may require areas or an entire office evacuation. 

Firms should also have the ability to notify not only internal staff, but if needed or required, to communicate to external stakeholders such as building management, police, mental health specialists. 

Resources for directly/indirectly involved persons

Mental health resources - Human Resources can be your best resource for identifying and gathering information on providing grief counseling, individual or group therapies, and other types of employee assistance programs. Check with your firm’s HR department to see if any of these services are available.

Physical resources – In situations where the primary office location is not available, employees will need to have the necessary information to work remotely. Ensure that all employees receive proper instructions on remote access capabilities and identify who they should call in the event they require technical assistance.

Resumption of business

While this will likely be a sensitive time for employees following an act of workplace violence, business operations must resume in a timely manner. Management teams/business continuity teams will need to review internal plans and will reflect upon the impact of the scene of workplace violence to help guide them on appropriate Recovery Time Objectives (“RTO”) and Recovery Point Objectives (“RPO”). Depending on the severity of the incident, this may involve scheduling a remediation meeting or sending a reminder of acceptable business practices companywide. Other, more serious incidents and acts of violence may have more significant impact on operations and the firm’s employees. 

The impacts of workplace violence can very quickly halt operations.  These types of situations will affect the workers involved, and the effects will reverberate among the rest of the company.  These acts are hard to identify before they happen and can occur without a pattern of behavior.  Therefore, it may be worth reviewing some of your firm’s BCP and HR policies to see if you are prepared for a scene of workplace violence.

Read more on Business Continuity Tips:

BCP/DR Guidebook
Photo Credit: Istock

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