The importance of volunteer background checks for people who work with children or who have access to Personally Identifying Information (PII) or money can’t be overstated. Background checks are proven to be the number one tool at preventing crime or workplace violence or other inappropriate actions from happening at your business or school or ministry. And now another group is taking a proactive approach to protecting itself from insider threats – political campaigns.

Donald Trump’s campaign is asking would-be volunteers to consent to a background check and sign a non-disclosure agreement if they want to serve in the Trump Tower Call Center in Manhattan. An email that was passed along to various media outlets sent to prospective volunteers said, in part:

“We need to get you to sign an NDA, check your identification, and give you an idea of what you can expect as a volunteer in our call center… Within a few days, we will complete a very basic and routine background check and then we will invite you to set your own schedule.”

Workplace Safety

While some people may scoff at the notion of asking call center volunteers to sign an NDA and pass a background check, workplace safety should always be a priority. Politics aside, Trump Tower is a busy mixed-use building filled with businesses like Gucci and apartment owners like European soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. The act of requiring volunteers who wish to participate at the Trump Campaign Headquarters to pass a background check and sign a non-disclosure form is really a way to protect the people who work and live in that building everyday.

Workplace violence is a real thing. You may not think much of it unless you hear of something really bad happening. These stats prove that it happens more than you realize:

  • Since the year 2000, an average of 552 work-related murders have occurred annually in the US
  • As of 2011, the total Deaths from Violence and Assaults by Persons (combines work-related homicides and workplace suicides) has reached 7,156 – an average annual death toll of 795.

The latest report from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows some areas of improvement. Fatal work injuries due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals were lower in 2014, with 749 deaths in 2014 compared to 773 in 2013. The number of workplace homicides was about the same as the total in 2013, but workplace suicides decreased slightly in 2014, from 282 to 271.

This could show a direct correlation between the rising numbers of businesses who conduct routine background checks on employees and volunteers and the overall reduction of workplace violent incidents. In other words, background checks work.

Workplace Violence Awareness Month

April 2016 is Workplace Violence Awareness Month. Started by the Alliance Against Workplace Violence (AAWPV), this national movement raises awareness about what workplace violence is, who are the most common victims, and what tools people have at their disposal to help curb it.

A background check is the single-most effective tool an employer can implement to keep his or her employees, volunteers, clients and visitors protected from danger. As a background screening agency, our team at Active Screening is all too aware of the dangers that lie behind a candidate’s resume or personality. That’s one of the reasons we take our job as background investigators so seriously – we know how important our results are to keeping workplaces safe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that almost 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. But like any situation where there is a perpetrator and a victim/survivor, many other instances go unreported so the true toll of workplace violence is still a mystery.

OSHA recommends employers implement zero-tolerance policies toward workplace violence. These policies should cover all workers, patients clients, visitors, contractors, and VOLUNTEERS. The policy should be part of a thorough on-boarding process for new employees and volunteers so that everyone receives the same information and training. The policy should also be readily available or publicly posted at your workplace so the possibility for confusion, misunderstanding or misinterpretation is eliminated.

Volunteer Screening You Can Count On

Screening volunteers is one of the smartest moves you can make to protect yourself, your employees and your clients from workplace violence. It’s not just for people who work with vulnerable populations or PII anymore. No matter the nature of your organization, every VOLUNTEER should be background checked.

Active Screening wants to make this as easy as possible for you. We have developed an online consultation solution so you can select the right volunteer background check. Recommendations include criminal background checks, as well as a ”true” 50 states sex offender registry search, with several states that must be searched by ”name-only” as some states do not provide date of birth on the offenders. A social security number verification is included to verify the correct name and date of birth of the applicant and to alert you to possible mismatches between the name provided by the applicant and the name registered to the social security number. A mismatch could indicate that the applicant is attempting to hide his/her true identity.

We are just as passionate about keeping your workplace safe as you are. That’s why we urge you to incorporate a thorough screening program into your hiring and employment processes. We’d love to talk with you about how to improve workplace safety through background checks and why not do it during Workplace Violence Awareness Month!? Send us an email here. 

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