100 Years of Professional Social Work

1898-1998
100 Years of Professional Social Work

Committee for the Study and Prevention of Violence against Social Workers

Safety Guidelines
Revised March 1996


(NASW Massachusetts Chapter, National Association of Social Workers, 14 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108)

Work related violence against social workers is a fact of life. It is pervasive and must be addressed by every school of social work, agency and individual worker. Violence includes physical assault, verbal assault, harassment and the threat of assault. Many occurrences of violence can be anticipated and their impact lessened; some may be prevented entirely. If agencies have well conceived safety policies and procedures in place, client and worker safety will be maximized and the agency's liability will be minimized.

NASW Massachusetts Chapter's Committee for the Study and Prevention of Violence Against Social Workers recommends that every agency and private practitioner develop safety policies and procedures that address prevention, intervention and aftermath strategies. Listed below is an outline of requirements for developing a comprehensive policy and safety plan. This outline is general. Each agency or private practice must develop specific guidelines that address their unique characteristics.

I: Safety Plan of Action

A written safety plan specific to the function and layout of each agency, or branch or division of an organization must be developed. Both staff input and expert consultation are important in the planning. Each safety plan must be detailed and comprehensive so that all staff members, clinical and non-clinical, know what to do in case of emergency. The plan must be reviewed and practiced on a regular basis if it is to be useful. A comprehensive safety plan should include:

II. Exterior and Physical Layout

III. Rules, Regulations and Procedures