An average of 2 million individuals become victims of workplace violence every year, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). On top of that, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that there are 400 workplace homicides each year.
With work violence in the upswing, preventing workplace violence must be an HR top priority across all industries. Here is what you need to know about workplace violence so you can make your effective prevention plan, whether it’s a new security system or hiring a domestic violence attorney.
What is Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is any act or threat of violence that happens where work is done. This includes behavior that can disrupt or terrorize, harass, or physically hurt others.
By this description, violence on the job can be anything, from petty theft at a convenience store to a terrorist attack involving your company.
Some examples of employment situations that may pose a higher risk of violence involve the following:
- Delivery of passengers, goods, or services
- Mobile workplace assignment duties
- Working alone or in small numbers
- Working in high crime areas
- Working during late-night or early-morning hours
- Working with inmates and patients
- Guarding valuable property or possessions
Additionally, there are industries that are at high risk of workplace violence, such as healthcare, taxi or for-hire drivers, and late-night establishments.
In order to make a prevention plan, you must know the different kinds of workplace violence.
Type One — Criminal Intent
This type of workplace violence is when:
- The primary motive is theft
- The wrongdoer in the incident has no relationship with the establishment
Criminal intent workplace violence is generally robbery, shoplifting, or trespassing incidents turned violent. The biggest targets for these are the workers who:
- Exchange cash
- Work late hours
- Work alone
Type Two — Customer/Client
For this type of workplace violence, the customer or the client is the perpetrator, with the incident happening during the worker’s normal duties. Healthcare and social services workers are the ones who are most prone to experiencing customer/client workplace violence.
Type Three — Worker-to-Worker
Worker-to-worker incidents are usually done by a current or former employee. The motivation is often an interpersonal- or work-related conflict, loss, or trauma. The group with the most risk for this type of incident are managers and supervisors.
Type Four — Domestic Violence
This type of incident involves someone who is not a current or former employee.
Domestic workplace violence is frequent because the abuser is often a spouse and knows where their partner will be during office hours. It is also important to note that women are targeted more frequently than men when it comes to these incidents.
Type Five — Ideological Violence
This is directed at an organization and its employees and/or property. The motive behind it can be ideological, religious, or political.
The act of violence is perpetrated by extremists and people who are driven by their values and beliefs. Examples of this are active shooter and terrorist incidents across the globe — or the recent incident of a man attacking a nurse for giving his wife a COVID-19 vaccine without his permission.
Making a Plan
When you have a policy, you’re telling your people that you have a commitment to a non-violent workplace. At the same time, you ensure the safety and well-being of your employees at work.
Every good prevention plan should include:
- A counter-measure for every type of workplace violence
- Consistently communicating the message that your office has zero tolerance for workplace violence or threats
- Encouraging employees to report incidents and suggest ways to reduce or even eliminate risks
- Routinely analyzing and mitigating both potential and existing violence issues
Managing Violent Situations
There are times when well-conceived security measures are not enough, especially when an individual is set on committing violence. For this, you need to allocate HR or security personnel to prepare clear guidelines on what to do during emergencies and specific situations.
There should be protocols for:
- Alerting security or the police
- Emphasizing the importance of employees keeping themselves out of danger, instead of going against the dangerous individual
Part of a good workplace violence policy is giving support to your employees who have become victims of violence. Support can be provided in various ways, such as granting employees flexible leave from work or referring them to:
- Medical centers
- Counseling services
- Victim advocacy groups
- Legal aid
- Domestic violence shelters
Getting a Business, Personal Injury, or Domestic Violence Attorney
Having a prevention policy will help reduce legal liability, but incidents still happen and the employer gets sued. In these situations, it would be wise to have someone for legal counsel. Get an attorney you can rely on during these instances.