What is Workplace Violence?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and with some modifications to accommodate for changing technologies and cultures, workplace violence is the act or threat of violence that ranges from verbal, physical or cyber abuse, and can be directed toward persons at or associated with work.
Workplace Violence Stats
- Workplace violence incidents have tripled in the last decade and currently makes up the fastest growing category of murder in the US.
- Workplace violence is the second leading cause of death for women in the workplace
- According to OSHA, 2 million workers in America are victims of workplace violence each year.
- In the period 2000-2015, over 1,000 active shooter casualties occurred in the workplace.
- 409 workers in private industry and government were workplace homicide victims in 2014.
- Of those victims who died from workplace violence, 83% were male, 49% were white, and 32% were working in a retail establishment.
- The rate of “sales and related occupations” workplace deaths due to homicide was 45%, with an even higher figure of 48% for their supervisors.
- The rate of “retail sales workers” workplace deaths due to homicide was 57%.
- The rate of “food preparation and serving-related occupations” workplace deaths due to homicide was 28%, with an almost equal figure for their supervisors at 22%.
- The rate of “office and administrative support occupations” workplace deaths due to homicide was 21%.
- The rate of “personal care and service occupations” workplace deaths due to homicide was 21%.
- The rate of “health technologists and technicians” workplace deaths due to homicide was 17%.
- The rate of “operations specialties managers” workplace deaths due to homicide was 14%.
- Workplace violence accounted for 17.8% of all simple assaults, and 12.9% of all aggravated assaults.
- 15,980 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2014. These incidents required days away from work.
- Of those victims who experienced trauma from workplace violence: 67% were female, 69% worked in the healthcare and social assistance industry, 23% required 31 or more days away from work to recover, and 20% involved 3 to 5 days away from work.
- 5% of all government and 20.3% of all private-sector employees face an offender with a weapon during an incident of workplace violence.
- Workplace violence researchers assess that the cost to American business ranges from $6 billion to $36 billion each year (FBI, 2011).
- According to the Workplace Violence Research Institute, neglectful hiring and negligent employee retention out-of-court disbursements due to workplace violence lawsuits averaged more than $500,000. Jury rulings in these cases averaged $3 million (2012).
- In the private sector, 88% of the most violent incidents in the workplace occur in service-related fields.
- Healthcare workers are 16 times more likely to experience violence than other service workers.
- More than half of healthcare workers have experienced at least one incident of physical or psychological violence during their professional lifetime.
- In the US, assaults against healthcare workers account for nearly 70% of nonfatal injuries from occupational violence.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Profile of Workplace Homicides, 2014.
||Wage and salary workers
|Leading Primary Source
|Co-workers or work associate
|Other client or customer
|Relative or domestic partner
|Leading Secondary Source
|Leading Worker Activity
||Tending a retail establishment
|Protective services activities
|Vehicular and transportation operations
|Street or highway
||Supervisors or sales workers
|Motor vehicle operators
|Law enforcement workers
|Accommodations and food services
|Transportation and warehousing
Workplace Violence Mitigation – Best Practices
- Create and maintain an organizational culture that fosters respect and trust amongst employees.
Employees at all levels of the organization should have a clear idea of what the organizations stands for and what it does not stand for. Employees should get the opportunity to discuss the organization’s culture, voice their opinions and offer amendments. The daily life of the organization must reflect its core values.
- Ensure the workplace provides a safe and secure working environment.
The organization must provide all employees with a safe and secure workplace that includes a mix of security measures such as coded card keys, employee IDs that can be used to ensure proper use and prevent unauthorized access, physical barriers capable of preventing unauthorized access to the facility, threat detection technologies and professional security personnel capable of responding immediately to evolving emergencies.
- Actively seek and analyze risk and vulnerability factors in the workplace.
Workplace violence audits should take place periodically and include overt and covert methods to ensure the quality of the collected data. Findings should be analyzed (preferably by an external expert to avoid conflict of interest issues) and conclusions should be discussed with management, HR and employees.
- Create a holistic workplace violence prevention program.
The results of the vulnerability audit should serve as the basis for creating a holistic workplace violence prevention and mitigation program that will include passive and active elements designed to minimize risk to employees. Such a program should be developed in cooperation with the employees and should include their input as well as professional modules for handling violent incidents, evolving conflicts, and bullying. Particular attention should be paid to the link between domestic disputes and workplace violence.
- Institute a regular training regime to maintain employees’ awareness.
Having devised a coherent violent prevention program for the organization, it is essential to ensure that all affected by it are familiar with its elements and have undergone sufficient training to enable them to put the program into practice, if and when necessary. It is one thing to know that you should strive to escape from an active shooter’s immediate area of impact, but it is a totally different thing to be able to put such knowledge to practice. That’s where training comes into the picture. It is also essential to create training modules that respond to the needs and responsibilities of each trainee. For example, managers and people responsible for providing certain services during an emergency should receive specific training to prepare them for their special roles.
- Perform routine and surprise drills, particularly active shooter drills, to ensure optimal response.
Creating a program and even training without routine refresher courses and drills is a waste of time and money. The drills should be structured so they build on employees’ knowledge and experience, fill in missing pieces and, most importantly, increase the self-confidence of the employees rather than alarm them.
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 Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2014. Taxi service accounted for 27 of these deaths.