Module 4: Assessing Systemic Risk


Any form of violence, whether occurring in the workplace or elsewhere, is almost invariably the result of the synergistic action of perpetrator and victim variables, as well as environmental and situational stressors.

Companies and other organizations are bound by either health and safety legislation, or by their due diligence obligation at common law, or both, to ensure that workers are not only safeguarded from industrial accidents and typical workplace hazards, but from the variety of inappropriate and aggressive behaviour that can and has occurred in the workplace in recent times.

Risk assessments that focus solely on potential perpetrators miss the mark and represent severe under-utilization of risk assessment opportunities. There are numerous risks within the environment that can be modified to reduce the overall level of risk. Systemic risk factors are within the control of the company, whereas perpetrator risk factors do not so easily lend themselves to modification (although they can often be identified and managed).

Organizations are more inclined to concentrate the investigation on the "problem" employee, and while the obvious importance of this is not to be denied, exclusive focus on the employee fails to take hold of an opportunity to evaluate the organization contribution to the workplace violence problem - what is it about the organization and workplace environment that either fosters or fails to prevent a violent occurrence?

The WRA-20 is a risk appraisal instrument that was designed to assist organizations in evaluating risk factors intrinsic to their workplace environment. The WRA-20 not only quantifies an organization's risk for a violent occurrence on its premises, but through the focused evaluative exercise, allows for the implementation of procedures and other interventions that may reduce any identified risk.

At the end of this module, participants will have learned to apply the Workplace Risk Assessment - 20 (WRA-20), to their particular setting.