Encountering aggressive behaviour at work, school, in hospitals or any other public place can't be predicted on any given day, but organisations can plan for it. As part of an organisation's safety initiative, it is imperative to develop a policy and procedure for managing and responding to aggressive behaviours. Policies and procedures act as guidelines that can help keep others safe during a crisis or until the aggressive individual calms down. Injuries could be averted and lives saved.
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Remove objects that can be used as dangerous weapons. If someone becomes aggressive, he or she might reach for something on impulse. If it's something particularly dangerous, such as a knife or a large rock, someone could be injured or property destroyed. Scan places where the public interacts with your employees and remove anything from counters or other surfaces that doesn't have to be there.
Identify whoever would be in charge of calming or interacting with an aggressive customer or employee. Within an organisation, it is important to assign roles and duties to those who will have to be involved in a crisis. Create an organizational chart that shows the order of responsibilities during a crisis. If everyone knows what to do, crisis can be mitigated quickly.
Have unblocked, accessible and clearly marked escape routes for people to evacuate the premises during an emergency. Make sure everyone in your building knows where the exits are. Institute quarterly or annual emergency evacuation drills to give employees practice escaping in an urgent manner.
Institute security measures. If you have a large waiting area where clients or customers gather, such as at a medical office or a bank, situate workers behind a glass partition. Other security measures include putting up security cameras, hiring a security guard for the premises and setting an alarm for the building for which only employees have the access code.
Have a process in place for reporting suspicious behaviours. In a workforce setting, employees should be briefed on how to spot and report a potentially aggressive co-worker. Similarly, students and teachers in a school setting and staff who work in a hospital should know what the procedures are for reporting suspicious behaviours. Suspicious behaviours should be defined for those responsible for reporting it. You may overhear someone talking about how he wants to do something violent, or you may notice someone is acting out of character. In any event, these people need help.
Install phones that can dial out in an emergency. These lines should be separate from the building's main telephone line and only used in crises. Ideally, phones should be available in every room so that people can call for help.
Keep the environment well lit. An illuminated atmosphere with good visibility makes it more difficult for those who feel aggressive to sneak around weapons or act suspicious without others noticing.
Provide aggression management training for employees, students and others who frequent the premises. Training can cover how to take further precautions against violence or aggressive behaviours, how to understand the policy and procedure on aggressive behaviours and what to do in an emergency situation.
Avoid triggers. If you work with a particular demographic of people or patients who are vulnerable to certain words or behaviours, ban or at least minimise those. Otherwise, they could build up toward verbal or physical aggression.
Tips and warnings
- In severe cases where an aggressive individual has a firearm or other dangerous weapon, it may not be appropriate for anyone from an organisation to attempt to calm the aggressive person. Instead, contact the police and evacuate the building safely.
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