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3 things to consider when building out your workplace violence prevention program

3 things to consider when building out your workplace violence prevention program Photo

Ask any security professional what keeps them up at night and you’ll likely hear responses such as, “workplace violence”, “active shooter situation”, or “something bad happening to an employee at work or on travel”. For this reason, we can say, with confidence, that a workplace violence prevention program ranks high on our to-do list when building a mature enterprise security program. Luckily, there are many resources available to us to help us combat this risk and build an effective prevention program. One such resource is the new ASIS International Standard, Workplace Violence Prevention and Active Assailant - Prevention, Intervention, and Response (WVPI). This is a helpful revision to the original standard put out in 2011 and is free to view online for ASIS members.

There are many facets to a workplace violence prevention program including building a threat management team, proactive training courses for all employees, and a solid reporting/response mechanism. Visitor Management Systems (VMS) can be one of many tools in your workplace violence toolkit that has  many direct and in-direct references within the new standard. Here are some of the ways VMS can help your organization in your pursuit of a safe workplace for your employees and guests of all kinds.

Recognizing the Risk Across all Demographics

The WVPI standard calls out several times that we must think of all who enter our workplace as a risk. This includes employees, visitors, contractors, temp works, and even family members.  Because of this, it's important to make sure we are screening all demographics of humans in our workplace effectively. We commonly work with human resources on background checks for employees but this is only one part of those who pose a risk within our workplace. Visitor management can aid in conducting quick screening for the rest of the population who enter the workplace through external watchlist vetting. This allows you to put procedure around attempted entry by a person who may be on a fugitive list or other industry-specific sanctions.

Prevention and Response Requirements

Part of our workplace violence prevention program includes how we respond to reports of a threat. How we handle a high risk terminated employee or an employee with an intimate partner violence situation can make a difference in what happens (or doesn’t happen) next. Parts of the WVPI standard discuss the need for process around terminating an employee. How do we ensure the people with a need to know are aware of the termination and the risks associated with that individual? In a large organization, it may be a challenge just to know who that person is by sight.  

Leveraging internal watch lists capabilities within a visitor management system gives you a place to track all of this information for those with a need to know. Including a photograph or other identifying information can be the difference in helping a security officer spot the terminated individual long before they make their way into the building afterward.      

We can leverage this same internal watch list (think BOLO) for our employees experiencing an intimate partner violence situation. In these cases, the person of interest is an unknown to our security staff. Having a photograph and the capability to quickly alert others of an attempted check-in can help us identify and respond to this threat much quicker than the alternative.

Physical Security as a Universal Countermeasure

One new addition to the standard this year is the importance of a solid enterprise physical security program as a universal countermeasure for workplace violence and many other risks we face.  When time is of the essence to act on a threat, we need to know that we have a program already in place to help combat whatever comes our way. Specifically called out within the physical security section is whether all visitors are signed in and accompanied by employees while on site. Having a system to capture this data completely and accurately goes a long way. Additionally, it's important to find a system that helps drive compliance with your pre-registration and escorting policies.

Our receptionists and security officers are on the frontlines for us everyday. We must arm them with the resources they need to keep themselves safe as part of our workplace violence prevention program. Things such as emergency duress buttons and mass notifications alerts built into the platform your receptionists use helps flag danger as soon as possible and helps keep them safe.

The final key aspect of a visitor management system is record keeping. It is known that offenders can easily move from location to location within your company. Additionally, when dealing with a troubled individual the risk may ebb and flow. The ability to capture this data in an easily accessible format and serve up at any time is key to maintaining consistent security in an inconsistent risk scenario. These are things like a pen and paper logbook just simply can’t do for you.


Much focus of your workplace violence protection plans will be on threat management and handling the response to a catastrophic event. However, new importance is being placed in maintaining the foundations of an enterprise physical security program as a universal countermeasure to whatever risk we may face including workplace violence. The new WVPI standard from ASIS International helps us see that. There are many tools you’ll need in your toolbelt to combat this risk for your employer but a comprehensive visitor management system can go a long way in helping build that foundational layer.  This is something not to be overlooked as you review your workplace violence prevention program or are just starting out.

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