About FASAP: University Policies
Standard Practice Guide 201.14 For FASAP Employee Assistance Services
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Workplace Violence and Threats
At the University of Michigan, all faculty and staff share the responsibility to report threats, acts of aggression, and violence to a responsible authority, department head, or to the Department of Public Safety. Threats, acts of aggression, and violence in the University will not be tolerated by or toward faculty and staff members or towards students, patients or visitors. Such actions may result in disciplinary actions, up to and including discharge or expulsion. Prosecution may result if federal, state and local laws are violated.
Threats can be direct and immediate or vague and may occur either verbally or in writing. Acts of aggression include abusive behavior, stalking and tampering with property and are intended to intimidate, create fear, inflict harm, or destroy property. Violent behavior is behaving in a way that poses an immediate threat to self or others by acts of physical harm.
Acts of violence cannot be predicted with absolute certainty, although we can minimize the risk to everyone when behaviors that are observed are reported to appropriate authorities. Often threats or acts of aggression escalate to a level of violence when there is poor communication with the person and the person cannot cope under the stress.
When interacting with a potentially aggressive or violent person, be aware of your reactions, report all behaviors to others, and follow the suggested guidelines:
- Remain calm, speak in a low voice...don't argue or agree with distortions.
- Let them know the consequences..."I'll call security if you don't sit down and stop yelling...I can't help you if you don't calm down."
- Avoid invasion of "personal space;" keep a safe distance of 3-6 feet.
- Treat people with respect regardless of their behavior and avoid being judgmental.
- Do not make promises that you cannot fulfill.
- If the person has an appeal to a higher authority, then so inform them.
- Report all behaviors to appropriate authorities or call Public Safety at 911.
If the behavior reaches the point of violence then:
- Remain calm. Dealing with the person calmly and confidently will help reduce further communication problems.
- Call 911. If you cannot call yourself, have someone else call for you.
- Do not try to physically force a person to leave. Do not touch the person.
- If violent behavior is occurring, escape, hide if not already seen, or cover-up.
- Position yourself, if possible, so that an exit route is readily accessible.
- Never attempt to disarm or accept a weapon from the person in question.
- Don't argue, threaten, or block their exit.
The University offers many resources (Department of Public Safety, Academic and Staff HR Services, FASAP, Psychiatric Emergency Services) to assist you and others to prevent problems, conduct investigations, manage the workplace if a situation occurs, and to help faculty and staff members cope with stress if an event occurs.