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Managing Uncertainty

Jul 9, 2020

In this episode of Managing Uncertainty, Bryghtpath Principal & Chief Executive Bryan Strawser discusses the new ASIS/ANSI Workplace Violence and Active Assailant – Prevention, Intervention, and Response Standard.

The newly revised and expanded standard provides an overview of policies, processes, and protocols that organizations can adopt to help identify, assess, respond to, and mitigate threatening or intimidating behavior and violence affecting the workplace. It describes the implementation of a workplace violence prevention and intervention (WVPI) program and personnel within organizations that typically become involved in prevention and intervention efforts.

In addition, this standard now includes an annex that provides actionable information and guidance relative to prevention, intervention, and response to incidents involving an active assailant/active shooter.

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Episode Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Managing Uncertainty podcast. This is Bryan Strawser, Principal and Chief Executive here at Bryghtpath. Today we're talking about the new American Society for Industrial Security Workplace Violence Prevention and Active Assailant prevention, intervention, and response standard, which was just published last month in June 2020. This is a revision to a nine-year-old standard that was originally published in 2011 that was simply titled the Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard.

With this standard, a significant revision that is three years in the making delivers a set of vetted best practices that organizations can use to help build workplace violence prevention programs or improve upon programs that are already in place. Full disclosure here, I was a member of the technical committee for the duration of this effort starting three years ago in 2017. We wrapped up our work just a few months ago before the standard went through the final voting and approval process at both the American Society for Industrial Security or ASIS and the American National Standards Institute or ANSI, the standard is recognized and published by both.

So this standard was developed through a multidisciplinary approach. There were more than 150 individuals involved, including a steering committee, although I think it had a different title and a technical committee. The role of the technical committee was to really generate a lot of the content and review content and suggest changes through multiple rounds of editing that have gone on over the past several years. The standard I actually started as an attempt to build an annex that addressed the issue of active assailants. A broader term about targeted workplace violence or active shooter incidents. It turned into a rewrite of the standard as we got into the work it just made more sense to look at the underlying standard and what we thought of is the active assailant annex, and how do we pull this together so that there's a comprehensive program that addresses all of these aspects.

So this standard went through a multidisciplinary process. We had more than just security professionals involved in the steering and technical committees. We had law enforcement, human resources, we had experts in life safety, we had psychologists and behavioral scientists and more academic researchers on threat management and other aspects. There were a number of folks like me, who not only are members of ASIS but also members of the Association for Threat Assessment Professionals or ATAP, which I'm a member of that organization as well. So we had, I thought a really good group of experts working through these challenges over the last three years.

If we take a look at the standard, we really see a handful of things that are contained in the standard. We see recommendations at a programmatic level about how to prevent this kind of violence from occurring, how to mitigate the risk of this kind of violence. We see a lot of content around establishing the right policies, procedures, and training so that employees understand what is concerning behavior and that they need to raise their hand and report upon this concerning behavior in order to prevent a workplace violence incident from occurring.

In our experience and we've talked about this on the podcast before one of the great challenges in this area is helping folks to understand what is a threat, what really is concerning behavior and your responsibility to raise your hand and report and escalate that within your school or place of business, your workplace, or nonprofit, public sector agency. That we need to come forward with that information, and then let the threat management or threat assessment process work.

We also have a new annex in the standard that addresses the issue of an active assailant. This touches on things like active shooter situations, but we're using the broader term of an active assailant. We recognize in the standard that an active assailant situation creates a crime scene, and that may create limitations of access to work areas for a period of time. We recognize the need for someone in the public information officer role or communications role to talk with the press. We highlight the need to have family notification processes, perhaps a reunification center for folks to meet their family members. So there's a lot of factors that come into the active assailant situation that is included in the new standard, the revised standard.

Then I think most importantly, the standard incorporates nine years of lessons learned since 2011. What have we learned since that original standard was published? How terminology has changed, how planning assumptions have changed, and really kind of repositioned things to reflect on today's challenges that employers are faced with in terms of workplace violence prevention and dealing with active assailant situations.

The standard is broadly written. It's applicable to all businesses in all industries, in all geographies. Certainly, there are some differences in duty to care laws and workplace safety regulations and firearm regulation from state to state, from country to country, and the standard addresses and recognizes that those differences may exist.

The approaches that are outlined in the standard can be applied to anyone, it fits any kind of setting a school, a manufacturing facility, an office environment, a small business, a large organization. So it's really, I think, flexible in terms of what is contained in the standard and how you can choose to apply those actions, those recommendations within your business.

The key idea that I think goes throughout the standard is that the standard establishes that we should have policies and procedures for trying to prevent these kinds of workplace violence incidents. That we help employees understand concerning behavior and to do something or say something about them when they occur. The standard is really about the organization having processes in place to manage a potential threat, mitigate potential acts of violence, but also understanding how to react and recover from a workplace violence incident that occurs, that involves that active assailant component.

You can find the standard on the website for the American Society for Industrial Security that is, follow the links to the standard, or you can go to the store and find it there as well. If you're an ASIS member it's completely free for you to read online, you can also purchase it as an electronic format, I believe that's a PDF, or you can purchase a paperback copy, a softcover copy that can be mailed to you. There is a charge for those, but ASIS members get 50% off the purchases of any standards. So there's at least some, a little break in there for you if you're an ASIS member.

I enjoyed my time working on this standard. Again, it was a great group of folks and the technical committee experience is always interesting because you're working through multiple drafts and comment processes to get to a final product and this is a final product that I'm quite proud of, that we were able to pull together over the past three years.

If you need help with your workplace violence prevention program or devising specific programs or exercises or plans around active shooter or active assailant situations, don't hesitate to reach out to us here at Bryghtpath at or via phone at (612) 235-6435.

That's it for this edition of the Managing Uncertainty podcast, we'll be back next week with another new episode.

Be well.