Workplace Violence—Everything You Need to Know

Workplace Violence—Everything You Need to Know

Workplace violence refers to any threat or act of intimidation, harassment, physical violence or any other disruptive behavior that is likely to occur at a place of work. It often ranges from verbal abuse and threats to bodily harm or even homicide. It is something that may affect or involve visitors, customers, clients, and employees.


OSHA commends that employers assume a zero-tolerance policy against workplace violence that covers employees, customers and anyone else who may come in contact with the organization. Such a policy may not only protects employees, contractors and others from violence, it also defends the employer if violence occurs. OSHA recommends that employees should be trained on the organization’s policy, ways to alleviate the risk of violence, on spotting violence about to happen and how to handle violent situations.


Reporting Workplace Violence

Workplace violence should always be taken seriously as it is not a light matter. Laws have been enacted to provide employees with the protection they need when working. Whether it originates from an outside source, a fellow employee or even a superior in the workplace, all incidents need to be addressed immediately. Keep in mind that no single individual is immune to this kind of threat.

You can report workplace violence by:

  • Requesting the local emergency department for assistance. When the authorities arrive, ensure you provide all relevant details including the dates and time. If possible, include the names and description of possible witnesses or suspects.
  • Ensure you report the incident to your work supervisors. In many companies, this should be done at the HR department.
  • If no action is taken especially if it happens in your workplace get in touch with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offices.

17 Surprising Workplace Violence Statistics

  1. Each year, close to 2 million people report incidences of workplace violence. In 2001 for instance, 409 people were fatally injured in their places of work. Roadway incidents are classified as the number one cause of death for employees, with workplace violence coming a close third.
  2. From 1992 to 2012, 140 US government workers were shot and killed by a colleague while on the job.
  3. In 2013, there were 397 fatal workplace injuries that were ruled to be homicides.
  4. In 2014 the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15,980 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence. These incidents represent a significant number of lost workdays.
  5. In 2012 Andrew Engeldinger, 36, worked for his shift one day  and was told after a dozen years working, he was told he had no longer had a job. He pulled out a 9mm Glock handgun and committed the biggest workplace massacre in Minnesota history. Killing 6 coworkers and then killed himself.
  6. 2014 A lone gunman shot and killed two co-workers before killing himself at UPS warehouse in Birmingham, Alabama, the worker was fired after 21-years of service.
  7. 2015 Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik dressed in black masks, armed with long guns and pistols, they entered a holiday party for county health workers in San Bernardino as it was in full swing. Before they fled, they had killed 14 people and wounded 17 others.
  8. Suicides at work reached an all-time high in 2011 with 270 documented incidents.
  9. Research shows the government employees rates of workplace violence are higher than any other employment sector.
  10. 88% of the most violent incidents in the workplace occur in service-related fields in private sector.
  11. Approximately 2 million American workers experience workplace violence every month.
  12. 85% of the workplace violence deaths that occur are caused by individuals who own guns.
  13. 30% of the incidents of workplace violence that happen to women come from a relative or direct personal associate.
  14. Nearly half of all workplace violence incidents occur in public environment.
  15. Taxi driver increases the risk of becoming the target of workplace violence by 20X when compared to other general working population.
  16. 47% of assailants are in the 35-54 age demographic.
  17. More than 40,000 acts of rape or sexual assault are perpetrated against women at work each year.

4 Examples of Workplace Violence


Generally, there are 4 types of workplace violence. These are:

  • Criminal Intent— This is where a perpetrator does not have any legit relationship with the employees or the business.
  • Client/customer— Here, the violent individual is deemed to have a legit relationship with a business.
  • Workeron-worker— This is classified as a type 3 incidence and will involve 2 or more employees.
  • Personal relationship— The violent person does not have any kind of relationship with a business or company but knows the intended person intimately.

13 Workplace Violence Prevention Training Guidelines


Every year, millions of workers are exposed to all kinds of violence in their places of work. Incidence varies in nature, but 1 out of every 5 incidents result in a fatality. This is a big concern for the employees, employers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is why workplace violence prevention training is being recommended for all businesses.


In general, training should cover the guidelines and procedures for a facility as well as de-escalation and self-defense techniques. Both de-escalation and self-defense training should include a hands-on component. The following provides a list of possible topics to be covered in any workplace violence training.

  1. The workplace violence prevention policy zero-tolerance policy against workplace violence
  2. Risk factors that cause or contribute to assaults like drunkenness, work related stress and discrimination.
  3. Policies and measures for documenting patients’ or clients’ change in behavior;
  4. The location, operation, and coverage of safety devices such as alarm systems, along with the necessary maintenance schedules and measures to make them always reliable.
  5. Early acknowledgment of escalating behavior or recognition of warning signs or situations that may lead to assaults in the workplace.
  6. Ways to recognize, prevent or diffuse volatile circumstances or aggressive behavior, manage anger and appropriately use medications where applicable.
  7. Proper use of safe rooms—areas where staff can find shelter from a violent incident.
  8. A standard response action plan for violent situations, including the availability of assistance, response to alarm systems and communication procedures;
  9. Self-defense procedures where appropriate.
  10. Progressive behavior control methods and when and how to apply restraints properly and safety when necessary.
  11. Ways to protect oneself and coworkers, including use of the “buddy system” that is working in a team all the time where there is possibility of a violence
  12. Policies and procedures for reporting and recordkeeping;
  13. Policies and procedures for obtaining medical care, trauma-informed care, counseling, workers ‘compensation or legal assistance after a violent episode or injury.

Workplace Violence Training for Employees

Under the federal laws of the US government, all employers are required to ensure that they provide a safe environment for all their employees. One of the topics covered under this is workplace violence. Their training should include:

  • Workplace violence impact
  • Responsibilities of an employer to prevent or reduce workplace violence
  • Responsibilities of the employees to prevent or reduce workplace violence
  • The various forms of workplace violence
  • Procedures to follow if one is a victim of workplace violence


OSHA Workplace Violence Statistics

When it comes to occupation injuries sustained by employees in the United States, homicide is among the leading causes of fatal injuries. A recent survey by the Bureau of Labor shows that the highest number of workplace injuries recorded recently was in 2015, where the figure stood at 4,836. 403 of these were homicides.

Workplace violence can be reduced or prevented by equipping employees with training materials and books that will teach them the dangers of this kind of incidents. They will also learn of the controls to apply if such an incident was to occur. Equipping them with materials is the best and surest way to ensure that they are all well informed.

Final Word

If no action is taken at early stages workplace violence will continue to haunt companies seriously. If employees know what to do and have clear policies and actions to follow, then they can guard themselves and ultimately be more productive.

Hundreds of thousands of hours are lost and also that translates to millions dollar lost every year, many of them paid in sick leave, employees recruitment  vacation time, because of violence that happens at workplace. There should be motivation and training to stop violence because it is so expensive.


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