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Q&A: Marvin Radford on the Workplace Violence Prevention Program

April 03, 2023
Victoria Vazquez

Marvin Radford took the helms of the Workplace Violence Prevention Program in December 2022 with gusto. Now, after a period of transition, he is steadily establishing a robust, multi-disciplinary effort to prevent violence throughout MD Anderson and UTHealth Houston.  

We asked Radford to share with us his journey and his outlook for the future of the Workplace Violence Prevention Program (WPVPP) 

In only your first 3 months in this position, what are your initial thoughts about your new role? 

I’m grateful and excited to be a part of this effort and to have the opportunity to create change that will support our mission. Nothing is more important than the physical and psychological safety of our patients, employees, family members, and stakeholders. 

What are your goals with the Workplace Violence Prevention Program? 

Initially, we want to increase awareness. We will be aiming to inform our community of what constitutes workplace violence. We will share the definition, share examples, and encourage anyone who experiences it to report it. In depicting workplace violence, we hope to further a culture of safety throughout our community.  

As we go earnestly into curtailing all types of workplace violence, we anticipate that there will be an increase in reporting. Increased reporting, as it is expected, would be one way that we can track our movement toward a zero-tolerance community. It would also allow us to further identify areas of highest risk, and to use data in our mitigation and prevention efforts to decrease the total workplace violence incidence over time. 

Our institutions have had workplace violence policies for a long time, and UT Police established the Threat Management Team many years ago. However, now we have a dedicated director over the WPVPP. What have you discovered about workplace violence since starting your role with UT Police? 

There is more to workplace violence than what is defined by the Joint Commission which is how I was mostly familiar with workplace violence during my timed role as Workplace Violence Officer in the US Army. 

When it comes to workplace violence, it is categorized into four different types: criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, and personal relationship. Here, UT Police sees reports of all typologies. Yet a startling fact is that workplace violence is grossly underreported  

Unfortunately, many of our frontline clinical staff believe it is part of the job. In many cases, clinical teams have normed the abnormal. We aim to change that, and that is part of my charge. As our program rolls out, our community can expect to see an emphasis in making those reports and in equipping our people with resources that can reduce incidents of violence or de-escalate heated interactions 

What workplace violence insights have surprised you? 

In my first months with UT Police, I have learned that UT Police does much more than solving crimes and making arrests. More directly to my role, I’ve really become a student in two areas: risk assessments and risk prevention. With risk assessments, I’m seeing that our facilities play a critical role in safety. Access points, emergency call buttons and pulls, exit doors, cameras all come together to support safety. Meanwhile, risk prevention involves creating a higher sense of awareness and ensuring our unique employee population understands the importance of reporting but also feel psychologically safe in doing so. Reports can remain anonymous so there is no fear of retaliation. 

You gave a presentation during the MD Anderson Coming to you Live event on March 24, 2023, highlighting workplace violence. What was that experience and exposure like? 

It was my first opportunity to share my personal story of workplace violence and how our Workplace Violence Prevention Program will support MD Anderson’s High Reliability Organizational Culture of SafetyIt was an amazing experience and I’m grateful to play a role in supporting our mission.

April is National Workplace Violence Prevention month. Are any special projects in place already to capture this opportunity?  

We have several outreach initiatives in place starting with a Safety Moment during MD Anderson’s Tiered Readiness Briefing on April 4. There will be much more to follow throughout the year.  

What future initiatives are in the works? 

We are working hard to implement role based WPVPP training and unified reporting. 

Role-based WPVPP training will be initiated for all 23,000 MD Anderson workforce members and students. Our plans are to provide training that is customized for our unique employee groups, such as jobs that entail different levels of risk, or that are known to have considerable patient and employee interactions that have a potential to escalate.  

Through unified reporting, we have our eyes on improving the use of data from the multiple workplace violence data streams that exist. Our employees can report incidents by calling 2-STOP (713-792-7867), complete a Safety Report, contact HR or EAP directly, and several other avenues, including 911 or calling UT Police (713-792-2890). 

We’re aiming to streamline data through a platform that can serve as a comprehensive case management system that allows our team to effectively triage cases, assign tasks, and track workflows. We also will track trends and identify risks. 

UT Police is very excited to have you on board. This all sounds like you have quite an adventure ahead of you!  

Yes! I am still learning the many police-related acronyms used in casual conversations. Although my background in the military has proven useful, I still seek clarification almost daily during meetings. There really is so much to learn and I’m here for it. Everyone has been helpful and kind. 

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