Identifying and Preventing Workplace Violence
It might shock you to learn workplace violence is the second leading cause of worksite deaths in the United States. Failing to adequately prevent and cope with violent incidents in the workplace can also lead to increased workers’ compensation costs, absenteeism, property damage and negative publicity.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over 70 percent of U.S. workplaces don’t have a formal policy or program addressing workplace violence. Recognizing the risk or workplace violence and taking action is essential. The creation of a sound prevention plan is the most important and ultimately least costly portion of any group’s workplace violence program.
Types of Workplace Violence
Workplace violence can be defined as violent acts directed towards a person at work or on duty. These acts are classified into four types of situations:
1. Criminal – the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship to the business or its employees and generally commits a crime in conjunction with the violence (shoplifting, robbery, trespassing).
2. Customer or Client – the perpetrator has a legitimate relationship with the business and becomes violent while being served by the business (clients, customers, students, patrons).
3. Co-Worker – the perpetrator is a current or past employee, or is a contractor who works as a temporary employee of the business.
4. Domestic Violence – the perpetrator has no legitimate relationship with the business but has a personal relationship with a victim, and threatens or assaults him or her at the workplace (family member, boyfriend or girlfriend).
There are several activities that might increase a worker’s risk for workplace assault, including:
- Contact with the public
- Exchange of money
- Mobile workplaces
- Working with unstable or volatile clients
- Working alone or in small numbers
- Working late at night or during early morning hours
- Working in high-crime areas
- Guarding valuable property or possessions
- Working in community-based settings
- Prevention Strategies
There are different actions you can take to protect employees and mitigate the risk of workplace violence, including the creation of a formalized policy or program. Learn more about workplace violence from crisis management expert Bruce Blythe in this Assurance University Replay webinar recording.
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