The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is dedicated to providing safe, dependable working conditions and services to its citizens and employees. In order to achieve this goal, it is our policy to provide a workplace free from violence and violent acts. In conjunction with this policy, the ODNR has adopted a “zero-tolerance” for workplace violence. Therefore, all acts or threats of physical violence, including intimidation, harassment, and/or coercion between employees in the work place or job related contacts with citizens or persons outside ODNR employment will not be tolerated.
DEFINITION OF WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
Workplace violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Threat: The expression of an intent to cause mental or physical harm to persons or property.
- Physical Attack: The unwanted or hostile physical contact such as, but not limited to, hitting, fighting, pushing, shoving or throwing objects.
- Intimidation: Includes, but not limited to, stalking or engaging in actions intended to frighten, coerce, or induce duress.
- Property Damage: The intentional damage to property which includes property owned by the State of Ohio, employees, visitors or vendors.
- Zero Tolerance: Violations will not be tolerated and will result in sever disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
THREATS OR ACTS OF VIOLENCE DEFINED
"Threats or acts of violence" include conduct against persons or property that is sufficiently severe, offensive, or intimidating to alter the conditions of state employment, or to create a hostile, abusive, or intimidating work environment for one or more ODNR employees.
EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED CONDUCT
Specific examples of conduct that may be considered "threats or acts of violence" prohibited under this policy include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Hitting or shoving an individual.
- Threatening to harm an individual or his/her family, friends, associates, or their property.
- The intentional destruction or threat of destruction of personal property of others or property owned, operated, or controlled by the state.
- Making harassing or threatening telephone calls, or sending harassing or threatening letters or other forms of written or electronic communications.
- The willful, malicious and repeated following of another person, also known as "stalking," and making of a credible threat with intent to place the other person in reasonable fear for his or her safety.
- Intimidating or attempting to coerce an employee to do wrongful acts, as defined by applicable law, administrative rule, policy, or work rule that would affect the business interests of the state.
- Making a suggestion or otherwise intimating that an act to injure persons or property is "appropriate," without regard to the location where such suggestion or intimation occurs.
- Unauthorized possession or inappropriate use of firearms, weapons, or any other dangerous devices on state property as defined in sections 2923.11 to 2923.24 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- Conduct that includes repeated verbal abuse and intimidation, profanity, or unwanted sexual comments or overtures directed at subordinates, supervisors, co-workers, or customers, while not overtly physical or violent, may be prohibited under this policy.
While some employees of ODNR may be required as a condition of their work assignment to possess firearms, weapons or other dangerous devices, or are permitted to carry them as authorized by law, it is departmental policy that employees are to use them only in accordance with departmental operating procedures and all applicable state and federal laws.
APPLICATION OF PROHIBITION
The department’s prohibition against threats and acts of violence applies to all persons involved in departmental operations, including, but not limited to, ODNR personnel, contract and temporary workers, and anyone else on state property. Violations of this policy by any individual will be subject to legal action, as appropriate. Violation of this policy by an ODNR employee may lead to disciplinary action up to and including removal in accordance with the applicable law, rule or collective bargaining agreement.
WARNING SIGNS, SYMPTOMS AND RISK FACTORS
- Supervisors should be alerted to and aware of inappropriate conduct that may constitute indicators or warning signs of an individual’s potential for violence. Such behavior should be monitored and documented.
- Hinting about knowledge of weaponry, marshal arts, or other means and manner of causing physical harm.
- Verbalizing violent fantasies or identifying, literally or metaphorically, with violent individuals or events.
- Possessing/displaying books, games or other media with themes of violence, revenge and harassment.
- Exhibiting, verbally or physically, excessive bitterness, intense anger, lack of empathy, social dysfunction, romantic obsession, morose depression or emotional isolation, including inappropriate physical manifestations such as hard breathing, flushed complexion, menacing expressions, or rapid, profane speech.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES
In all situations, if violence appears to be imminent, employees should take the precautions necessary to assure their own safety and the safety of others.
Following are critical telephone numbers that may be necessary to carry out the procedures outlined in this section:
Emergency Services - Police, Fire, Rescue
8-911 Central Office (911 from your cell phone)
Field facilities follow local 911 procedures
The following procedures shall apply in the event of a crisis situation:
- If the crisis situation involves an injury that requires immediate medical attention, the employee discovering the crisis should alert the appropriate medical professional by calling 8-911 (911 from your cell phone), then notify a supervisor. The supervisor should contact the radio room.
- The primary contact person shall be the ODNR Radio Room (614)-799-9572. Or Central Office staff may contact extension 7095. He/she has authority to assume or delegate the duties required of this policy.
- In the event of all other crisis situations, ODNR employees should notify their supervisor of the situation. The supervisor should contact the radio room.
- If no supervisor is available, the employee should contact the radio room.
- Immediate action will be taken by the Law Enforcement Administrator to ensure the safety of those involved in the crisis situation or affected by the crisis.
- The Law Enforcement Administrator will notify the Director of ODNR of the facts of the crisis situation as soon as possible. The Law Enforcement Administrator will assume or assign the responsibilities of:
Liaison with the law enforcement, fire, medical and other community resources offering assistance, as necessary.
Spokesperson to monitor incoming calls, and document in detail everything done in response to the crisis situation.
- All communication with the immediate relative(s) and other employees shall be handled by the Office of Human Resources, Health and Safety Coordinator.
- All communications with the media shall be directed to and handled by the Office of Communications.
- In the event of threats of violence to person(s) or property by means of firearms, fire, explosions, bombs, etc., the Law Enforcement Administrator shall be notified. The Law Enforcement Administrator shall contact the State Highway Patrol. If law enforcement authorities determine that an evacuation is necessary, personnel of the affected area will be evacuated from the threatened area and employees will be directed to the appropriate site.
- If a building evacuation is necessary, it will be conducted in a safe and orderly manner. The Law Enforcement Administrator will insure that staff from each evacuated facility accounts for its personnel and all persons are evacuated from the building. Until otherwise directed, employees must report to and remain at the evacuation site so that they may be accounted for. Responding emergency service personnel will be notified of persons not accounted for to aid in determining whether the evacuation is complete
- Re-entry into the building will be restricted to emergency service and/or authorized personnel until law enforcement authorities determine the crisis is resolved and a safe re-entry can be made.
- In the event a person causing a crisis situation leaves the building, responsibility for preventing that person from re-entry shall be left to law enforcement authorities.
REPORTING THREATS OR ACTS OF VIOLENCE
Each employee of ODNR and every person on state property are required to report incidents of threats or acts of physical violence of which he or she is aware. In cases where the reporting individual is not a state employee, the report should be made to the Office of Human Resources, Health and Safety Coordinator or Labor Relations Office who will notify the Law Enforcement Administrator.
In cases where the reporting individual is an ODNR employee, the report should be made to the reporting individual’s immediate supervisor or a management level supervisory employee if the immediate supervisor is not available or if the immediate supervisor is a party to the incident. The supervisor/management employee shall contact the Office of Human Resources, Health and Safety Coordinator or Labor Relations Office. Any such incident shall be promptly referred by the Law Enforcement Administrator to the appropriate management level supervisor, who shall take corrective action in accordance with the applicable law, rule or collective bargaining agreement. Concurrently with the initiation of any investigation leading to a proposed disciplinary action, the Law Enforcement Administrator shall report any incidents of threats or acts of physical violence to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Additionally, employees may make an anonymous report of violence.
At the discretion of the Director, Deputy Director or Chief, an employee showing symptoms of potentially violent behavior may be ordered to submit to a psychological evaluation to determine the employee’s fitness for duty. Such an evaluation shall be conducted pursuant to the applicable sections of the Ohio Revised Code and the Ohio Administrative Code.
ODNR shall provide opportunities for employees to be trained in the risk factors associated with workplace violence and proper handling of emergency situations in order to minimize the risks of violent incidents occurring in the workplace.
REFERRAL TO OHIO EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Where an employee suspects that another employee has work-related and/or personal problems, which create a workplace violence issue, the employee may recommend or request that the employee contact the Ohio Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling and support (614-644-8545 or 1-800-221-6327). In the alternative, the employee may contact their Division/Department Human Resources personnel to consider an EAP referral.
EAP should be consulted (within 24 hours of the incident) for purposes of conducting a critical incident stress debriefing, should a critical incident occur. Examples of critical incidents include:
- hostage or riot situations
- serious injury or death of a coworker
- incidents involving use of force
- resident suicide or death
- catastrophic accidents
- agency negative publicity
EAP should be consulted when developing employee and supervisor training programs. EAP also provides the EAP Intervention Services for Organizations in Transition, which should be utilized in the event of a layoff.
Violation of this policy by any employee may lead to disciplinary action up to and including removal. Additionally, violations of the policy by anyone may result in legal action, as appropriate.