Preventing workplace violence is a growing concern in the United States and is a frustrating problem facing Federal agencies today. Workplace violence can adversely impact the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of organization operations and raises profound concerns about the safety of employees and public conducting business with the Government. In fact, according to a recent document prepared by the U. S. Department of Labor, approximately 2,000,000 people throughout the country are victims of non-fatal violence at the workplace every year. The Department of Justice reports that violence is the leading cause of fatal injuries at work with about 1,000 workplace homicides each year.
While it is clear that workplace violence is a serious concern, public interest and media attention have focused primarily on dramatic but rare types of violence such as shootings by disgruntled employees in office buildings. Planners of workplace violence programs face the dual challenge of reducing employees’ anxiety about very rare risk factors while focusing their attention on more likely sources of danger. Undue anxiety about the “office gunman” can stand in the way of identifying more significant, but less dramatic, risk factors such as poorly lighted parking lots or gaps in employee training programs.
This anxiety can also make it more difficult to cope with one of the most common workplace violence problems – the employee whose language or behavior frightens coworkers. The objective of a well-defined workplace violence program is to help employers recognize and respond appropriately to the actual risks of workplace violence faced by their employees.
Since its creation in 1988, the OIG has performed numerous reviews, inspections and audits to evaluate the effectiveness of controls designed to ensure the protection of Commission personnel and property. For example, the OIG has performed several reviews evaluating the security of the Commission’s Information Technology (IT) infrastructure (e.g., security of network components, data centers, hub rooms, wiring closets, etc.) and several reviews to evaluate the physical security of Commission workspace. Additionally, the Commission has performed reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of physical security. Prior to the Commission’s recent move to the Portals II headquarters building, the Commission contracted for two building physical security studies to evaluate to effectiveness of proposed security measures.
Although the OIG and Commission have evaluated aspects of the workplace violence program, the OIG has not examined other critical portions of the program or assessed the overall effectiveness of the program. The objective of this program is to systematically examine all aspects of the Commission’s workplace violence program. Consistent with OPM guidance, the Commission’s workplace violence program would include the following components:
- Written Workplace Violence Policy
- Pre-employment Screening
- Dispute Resolution
- Fact Finding/Investigating
- Threat Assessment
- Employee Relations
- Workplace Security
- Security Planning
- Law Enforcement and Security Assistance
- Physical Security Measures
- Computer Security
- Organizational Recovery After an Incident
The OIG has contracted with a team of technical specialists in the fields of workplace violence and security to assist us in evaluating the Commission's workplace violence program. We are currently conducting a risk assessment of all aspects of the Commission's program, to include policies and procedures, incident response, and comparisons to benchmark agencies. After the risk assessment is completed, we will prioritize special reviews of those aspects of the program that are determined to represent the most risk to the Commission and its employees. Additionally, the OIG will conduct an employee survey (based on a survey model utilized by the United States Postal Service) to determine the employees' perceptions about workplace security.