Where We Work An Informed Conversation on Workplace Violence Prevention

Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of Workplace Violence each year. Unfortunately, only 47% of non-fatal incidents are reported to the authorities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines Workplace Violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors.

According to OSHA, there are Three Levels of Workplace Violence

Level One: Verbal Abuse

Level 2: Increasingly Threatening Behaviors

Level Three: Further Escalation/Physical Violence

Can You Recognize Workplace Violence?

A supervisor yells at an employee, calling them stupid for not submitting a report on time. The employee then begins to cry.

Would you report this? YES or NO

Two employees are competing for a promotion. One employee is about to meet with the supervisor. Right before, the other employee verbally threatens them and says if they get the promotion, they will come after them.

Would you report this? Yes or No

An angry family member, dissatisfied with medical treatment provided to his loved one, threatens and physically assaults a healthcare provider.

Would you report this? Yes or No

All three examples are, in fact, reportable instances of Workplace Violence.

According to the FBI, there are Four Types of Workplace Violence

Type One: Criminal Act

Violent Acts by criminals who have no other connection with the workplace, but enter to commit robbery or another crime.

Brown's Chicken Massacre

On January 1, 1993, two assailants robbed a Brown's Chicken restaurant and shot and killed all seven employees who were present.

Type Two: Customer/Patient

Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or any others from whom an organization provides services.

Mid-Michigan Physicians Building Vehicle Attack

On November 18, 2015, a disgruntled patient rammed his vehicle into the main entrance of the Mid-Michigan Physician's medical building, wounding two people.

Type Three: Worker on Worker

Violence against coworkers, supervisors, or managers by a present or former employee.

Virginia Beach Municipal Center Shooting

On May 19th, 2019, a disgruntled employee entered the Virginia Beach Municipal Center after sending in his resignation letter, and shot and killed 11 coworkers and one visitor to the facility, and wounded five others.

Type Four: Personal Relationship

Violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn’t work there but has a personal relationship with an employee, such as an abusive spouse or domestic partner

Baptist Hospital Shooting

On February 19, 2020, a man shot and killed his girlfriend, a clerk at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. A security guard who had just arrived and witnessed the assault, attempted to intervene and was killed in the attack.

75% of all workplace assaults occur against healthcare workers in the healthcare environment.

OSHA recommends, and in some cases requires, a written and implemented Workplace Violence Prevention and Training Program.

Culture of Engagement

Workplace Violence Prevention begins when organizations facilitate a Culture of Engagement, not just simply reporting.

There are a variety of reasons individuals are reluctant to report instances of Workplace Violence. These include:

  • Unsure of what behavior is unacceptable in a workplace
  • Unsure of what to report and who to report it to
  • Feel that it is not their business
  • Do not want to get involved
  • Fear of retribution from either colleagues or supervisors

The first line of defense in Workplace Violence Prevention is an engaged workforce, and they should all feel comfortable with reporting things that do not look or feel right in their workplace.

Security Sense Is Common Sense.