In 2011 the Bureau of Labor Statistics published data on the incidence of injury and death in American workplaces. The data highlighted the fact that workplace violence decreased in all sectors in the US other than healthcare, where injuries actually rose by 10%. In December 2014, BLS updated the data, and if you are interested in looking at the full report, it is available online.

The upshot of all this is that in the category “violence and other injuries by persons or animals” occurred at a rate of 4.2 per 10,000 full time workers in the broad private sector. In the health care and social assistance sector, that rate was 16.2 per 10,000 full time workers, and this was an increase of about 5% from two years prior, when the rate was 15.1 per 10,000 full time workers. In spite of all the attention paid to workplace violence in conferences, articles, books and workshops, violence against healthcare and social assistance (group homes, supported living and employment, in-home care, etc.) is not going down.

I recently presented workshops on The Mandt System® in Washington, Missouri and Arlington, Texas. When I asked participants in (admittedly) a non-scientific survey how many injuries occurred to staff as a result of aggression by others, the predominant answer was “zero.” Several organizations said one or two, but for most, it was zero. One of the reasons for this, I believe, is the focus on the simple principles of dignity and respect for all.

The “Mandt Mandtra” we are using now is “in this place, and with these people, I feel safe™.” When people feel safe, they act safe. This is true for the people we serve, it is true for the caregivers who provide the service, it is true for all people. I have been researching information on workplace violence and workplace safety for a chapter to be published in the International Handbook of Forensic Psychology, to be published in the UK next year. All of the research I have found reveals that the focus of programs to prevent workplace violence is focused on the “technical” aspects of reporting bullying, investigating incidents, punishing perpetrators and holding everyone more accountable.

The problem is that this approach is not working in a setting that is as focused on relationships as healthcare and social assistance. Unlike mining, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, etc., our work is relationally based. A relationally based approach that increases safety as a way of decreasing risk is what is needed and is what has, in my opinion, contributed to the safety experienced by so many people in organizations using The Mandt System®.

Last week I had the opportunity to watch two instructors from the Arlington Independent School District teach restraint to educators. They were focusing on learning specific physical skills, and started with the importance of non-physical skills, and the need to continue to focus on relationships. They have been using Mandt for a year now, and report that the response has been enthusiastically positive. By focusing on the factors that increase safety, risk is decreasing. Their commitment to these principles was a joy to watch. Now, if only we had data to go along with this story (hint hint).

Bob Bowen – SVP Program Development