Use Benchmarking to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Workplace Violence Program


The OHS laws require companies to implement a program to prevent workplace violence. Periodic reviews of the effectiveness of current measures is a key element of such a program. But program evaluation can be a challenge. Benchmarking—that is, comparing your program against others known for their high quality—is a useful method of evaluating a workplace violence program.

How does benchmarking work in the context of workplace violence programs? The School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University completed a benchmark study of 10 companies with progressive workplace violence prevention/response programs and compiled a list of the key elements in these programs. There’s a Checklist of these elements that you can use to determine whether your workplace violence program takes a comprehensive approach to the problem and identify any gaps that exist in it.

MSU Study

Ten companies participated in the MSU study. All of them reported that their security and/or personnel/HR departments were responsible for the prevention of and response to workplace violence.

Six of the companies reported having, at some time, experienced a workplace fatality as a result of violence, six of which occurred during the previous two years. Other serious incidents reported in the previous year included physical assault, robbery, weapons possession and vandalism. Respondents rated the impact of these incidents on their companies, using a scale of 1 to 5 (5 = extremely disruptive and 1 = not disruptive at all). The greatest impact reported was on productivity and the least on employee turnover.

Components of an Effective Workplace Violence Program

In analyzing the workplace violence programs in these 10 companies, the researchers identified 42 components or elements as crucial to successful workplace violence prevention/response programs. They fall into the following categories:

  • General programs and procedures, such as screening of potential employees;
  • Workplace violence prevention/response program components, such as crisis management teams, critical incident reviews and relationships with workplace violence experts;
  • Policies, such as weapons bans and zero tolerance policies for threats and violence;
  • Reporting/recording, such as 24-hour reporting hotlines and provision of emergency communication equipment; and
  • Training, such as how to detect “red flags” and dealing with difficult customers.

Use the Checklist of these critical elements to assess your company’s workplace violence program and identify any safety measures that it might be missing.

Insider Says: For more information and tools on workplace violence, go to the OHS Insider Workplace Violence Compliance Center.


Whether you’re developing a workplace violence program or trying to improve an existing one, there’s no need to start from scratch. You can benefit from the experience of other companies that have implemented effective programs by adopting the elements of their programs that are appropriate for your workplace.

Insider Source

Workplace Violence Programs in Leading Edge Companies, Michigan State University, School of Criminal Justice.

Ten Companies that Participated in the Workplace Violence Benchmarking Project

  1. Ford Motor Company
  2. Rockwell International
  3. General Motors Corporation
  4. Southern California Edison
  5. United Parcel Service
  6. Detroit Edison
  7. Duke Power
  8. Florida Power and Light
  9. Baltimore Gas and Electric
  10. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M)