Prevention program targets workplace violence

February 23, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,
Staff members undergoing training.

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, verbal abuse or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at work. Unfortunately, the number of violence-related incidents has steadily increased over the last decade, exacerbated by the pandemic. In addition, data shows that employees in health care and social service industries are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than all other workers, creating harm and work-related stress and burnout.

The good news is that with prevention-focused education, consistent reporting and documented policies and procedures in place, much of this can be prevented.

Even more good news: with the safety of staff, patients, families and visitors in mind, U-M Health is launching the Workplace Violence Prevention Program (WPVPP). The systemwide, multifaceted program will give employees the tools needed to prevent and de-escalate incidents of workplace violence whenever they occur.

“We know workplace violence exists here at U-M Health and, like other health care systems, incidents have increased during the past few years. While we employ many very successful programs to address employee well-being and safety, now is the time to put a more comprehensive program in place,” said Brian Uridge, deputy director of the Division of Public Safety & Security (DPSS), and co-leader of the program.

The training involves virtual components.

“This new program will expand our current safety reporting and training processes, offer better post-incident supports for our employees and, most importantly, bring all our related efforts together under one collaborative program. It will help us build and sustain a culture that provides a supportive compassionate environment, which will allow all of us — patients, families, faculty, staff and learners — to feel safe in our facilities,” Uridge said. 

The WPVPP includes five key components: 

  • Policies and procedures to prevent and report workplace violence
  • Training and education programs
  • Data analysis and reporting, to identify incidents and trends
  • Post-incident support model, including an approach for follow-up and support to victims and witnesses affected by workplace violence, including trauma and psychological counseling, as needed.
  • Leadership oversight

“The program is not just geared to clinicians,” said program co-lead Julie Grunawalt, associate chief nursing officer for UH/CVC Medical, Emergency and Psychiatry Services. “Every employee at U-M Health will receive training in this new program and benefit from the enhanced reporting and follow up of all qualifying incidents.

“This represents a shift in our efforts from standard risk management to a more proactive, preventative program which will use new resources and best practices to teach staff how to recognize a potential threat, de-escalate a situation before it becomes dangerous, and debrief and learn from past experiences,” she added.

Both Grunawalt and Uridge are excited about the impact this program will have on the safety and security of U-M Health, but they both recognize it can only effect reported incidents. National studies suggest only 26% of workplace violence events are reported. They encourage everyone to report any incident — whether it is physical or psychological in nature or between staff and patient, staff and visitor or staff and staff.

To report an incident, click here.

The WPVPP reinforces the U-M Health Strategic Priorities of BASE, aligning with Belonging and Inclusion, Safety and Quality, and Experience. WPVPP activities will also support High Reliability (HRO) skills and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) principles, as well as compliance with new requirements from The Joint Commission for workplace violence.

All U-M Health faculty, staff and learners will be required to take a level of workplace violence prevention training that is appropriate for their role and work environment. Additional information will be shared as a more comprehensive training strategy is developed.

For more information visit the WPVPP website, email wpvp-program@med.umich.edu or check out the latest episode of The Wrap employee podcast below!

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