Ensuring safety in the workplace is crucial. When violence or harassment occurs, it's essential to investigate the incidents thoroughly. 

That's where workplace violence investigations come in!

These investigations are vital for uncovering what happened, why, and how to prevent it from happening again.

Workplace violence investigations help protect employees. By understanding the root causes of violence or harassment, employers can take steps to create a safer work environment for everyone. 

Workplace violence investigations are also focused on legality and ethics. Under occupational health and safety laws, employers are legally obligated to provide a safe workplace for their employees. 

According to the Canadian Labor Congress, a staggering 70% of workers encountered some form of harassment or violence in the workplace in 2020. Considering these staggering statistics, investigating the incidents of workplace violence becomes necessary.

This blog highlights the importance of workplace violence investigations, the legal obligations surrounding them, and the ethical considerations that guide them. 

Understanding these aspects is essential for creating a safe, fair, and respectful workplace for everyone involved.

The Role of Workplace Violence Investigations


Workplace violence investigations are crucial in maintaining a safe and secure work environment.

By thoroughly examining incidents of violence or threats, organizations can identify potential risks, conduct risk assessments, and establish effective prevention strategies to safeguard employees and promote well-being.

Here are the main factors you must consider to make the workplace violence-free!

  1. Identify potential threats

  2. Conduct risk assessments

  3. Establish prevention strategies

Let's explore each of these steps in detail so you can understand how to ascertain the security and safety of the employees at the workplace. 

1. Identifying Potential Threats

In workplace violence investigations, identifying potential threats involves closely examining various incidents, behaviors, or communications that could indicate a risk to the safety of employees. 

This includes reviewing reports of verbal or physical altercations, threats of violence, or concerning behavior exhibited by individuals in the workplace.

To effectively identify potential threats, investigators may interview witnesses, review security footage, analyze communication records such as emails or text messages, and gather relevant evidence. 

By thoroughly examining these factors, investigators can gain insight into the nature and severity of the potential threat.

Once potential threats are identified, assessing their credibility and determining their risk level is essential. This requires careful consideration of factors such as the individual's history, motive, and access to weapons or other means of causing harm. 

Additionally, investigators must assess the context of the threat and any underlying issues that may have contributed to the situation.

2. Conducting Risk Assessments

After identifying potential threats, the next step in workplace violence investigations is to conduct risk assessments. 

This involves evaluating the likelihood and potential impact of each identified threat to determine the level of risk it poses to the safety and well-being of employees.

Risk assessments typically consider factors such as the severity of the threat, the probability of it being carried out, and the potential consequences if it were to occur. 

Investigators may also assess the vulnerability of individuals or groups who may be targets of the threat and the effectiveness of existing security measures in mitigating the risk.

By conducting thorough risk assessments, organizations can prioritize their response efforts and allocate resources effectively to address the most significant threats. 

This proactive approach helps to enhance the organization's overall security posture and reduce the likelihood of workplace violence incidents.

3. Establishing Prevention Strategies

Once potential threats have been identified and risk assessments conducted, the final step in workplace violence investigations is establishing prevention strategies. 

These strategies aim to mitigate the risk of future incidents and create a safer work environment for employees.

Prevention strategies may include implementing security measures such as access controls, surveillance systems, or panic alarms to deter potential perpetrators. 

Organizations may also provide training and education to employees on recognizing and responding to threats, conflict resolution techniques, and personal safety strategies.

Furthermore, fostering a culture of respect, communication, and zero tolerance for violence is essential in preventing workplace violence. Organizations can create an environment where employees feel safe and supported by promoting open dialogue, encouraging reporting concerning behaviors, and addressing issues promptly and effectively.

Establishing comprehensive prevention strategies is crucial for preventing workplace violence and ensuring the well-being of employees. 

By taking proactive measures to address potential threats and mitigate risks, organizations can create a workplace where safety is prioritized and incidents of violence are minimized.

5 Key Steps for Conducting a Workplace Violence Investigation


Workplace violence investigations are crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. These investigations are structured to gather evidence, identify perpetrators, and prevent violent workplace incidents in the future.

Let's explore the essential steps involved in conducting a workplace violence investigation.

1. Initial Response


The initial response to a workplace violence incident is critical for ensuring the safety of everyone involved. This includes promptly assessing the situation, ensuring medical attention for injured parties, and securing the scene to preserve evidence.

2. Immediate Actions

Immediate actions involve taking steps to mitigate the risk of further harm and maintain the security of the workplace. 

This may include separating individuals involved in the incident, contacting law enforcement if necessary, and implementing any emergency response protocols established by the organization.

3. Securing the Scene

Securing the scene involves restricting access to the area where the incident occurred to prevent contamination or tampering with evidence. This helps preserve the investigation's integrity and ensures that vital evidence is not compromised.

2. Gathering Evidence


Evidence is crucial in workplace violence investigations to establish facts and identify the individuals responsible for the incident. 

This involves interviews with witnesses, reviewing security footage, and documenting any physical evidence related to the incident.

1. Interviews with Witnesses

Interviews with witnesses provide valuable information about the sequence of events leading up to the incident and the actions of those involved. 

Interviewers should use open-ended questions to encourage witnesses to provide detailed accounts of their observations.

2. Review of Security Footage

Reviewing security footage allows investigators to corroborate witness statements and identify additional individuals involved. It provides a visual record of the events leading up to the incident and can help establish a timeline.

3. Documenting Incidents

Documenting incidents involves creating detailed reports that accurately capture the facts and circumstances surrounding the workplace violence incident. 

These reports serve as essential records for the investigation and may be used for legal or disciplinary purposes.

3. Involvement of Law Enforcement


In cases of workplace violence, involving law enforcement may be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and pursue legal action against perpetrators. 

This involves reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities and collaborating with law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation.

1. Reporting to Authorities

Reporting the incident to authorities involves providing law enforcement with all relevant information and evidence related to the workplace violence incident. 

This may include witness statements, security footage, and other documentation gathered during the investigation.

2. Collaboration with Law Enforcement Agencies

Collaborating with law enforcement agencies ensures that investigations are conducted effectively and by legal requirements. This may involve sharing information, coordinating interviews with witnesses, and supporting law enforcement.

4. Legal and Ethical Considerations in Workplace Violence Investigations

Workplace violence investigations must adhere to legal and ethical standards to ensure fairness, confidentiality, and respect for all parties' rights. 

This includes protecting the privacy of individuals, following established protocols for evidence collection and preservation, and conducting investigations impartially and without bias.

Here are the points you need to consider in terms of legal and ethical considerations in workplace violence investigation: 

  1. Compliance with relevant laws and regulations governing workplace safety and employee rights.
  2. Respect for individual privacy and confidentiality throughout the investigation process.
  3. Avoidance of bias or discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, or disability.
  4. Adherence to organizational policies and procedures for handling workplace violence incidents.
  5. Provision of support services and resources for affected employees, including counseling and assistance with legal proceedings.
  6. Collaboration with law enforcement agencies while ensuring transparency and accountability.
  7. Protection of evidence integrity to ensure the accuracy and reliability of findings.
  8. Consideration of potential legal liabilities and consequences for the organization.
  9. Establishment of reporting protocols to facilitate timely and accurate reporting of incidents.
  10. Promotion of a culture of zero tolerance for workplace violence and harassment.

5. Collaborating with Human Resources and Management

Collaborating with human resources (HR) and management is essential for addressing workplace violence incidents and implementing preventive measures. 

HR can provide support to employees affected by the incident, while management can implement changes to policies and procedures to enhance workplace safety.

1. Reporting Protocols

Establishing clear reporting protocols ensures that incidents of workplace violence are promptly reported and addressed. 

This includes providing employees with multiple reporting channels, such as anonymous hotlines or online forms, and outlining the steps to take in the event of a workplace violence incident.

By following these steps and considering the legal and ethical implications of workplace violence investigations, organizations can effectively address incidents of violence, protect the safety of their employees, and create a secure work environment for all.

Final Words

Workplace violence investigations play a vital role in protecting the well-being of employees and maintaining a secure work environment. 

Identifying the warning signs of workplace violence can help design and implement preventive strategies, but an investigation is necessary to find the cause of the incident. 

By following structured procedures outlined in this guide, organizations can effectively address incidents of violence, identify potential threats, and implement preventive measures to mitigate future risks.

The initial response to a workplace violence incident sets the tone for the investigation, emphasizing the importance of immediate actions to ensure the safety of everyone involved and secure the scene for evidence preservation. 

Gathering evidence through interviews with witnesses and reviewing security footage provides valuable insights into the incident, helping to identify perpetrators and establish a factual basis for the investigation.

Involving law enforcement when necessary ensures that investigations are conducted thoroughly and by legal requirements, while collaboration with human resources and management facilitates the implementation of preventive strategies and support for affected employees. 

Additionally, adhering to legal and ethical considerations throughout the investigation process is necessary for upholding fairness, confidentiality, and respect for all parties' rights.

Canada Safety Training offers comprehensive Workplace Violence Training so employees and employers can deal with the situation and prevent such cases in the future!

Organizations can create a safe and inclusive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and protected by fostering a culture of transparency, accountability, and zero tolerance for workplace violence.