Workplace Violence—Is your Company at Risk?

20 Years of Statistics Show Incidents on the Rise

It could happen anywhere and at any time. The FBI has been tracking workplace violence pertaining to armed incidents for 20 years—and the incidents are increasing. Two million cases of workplace violence are reported each year. Homicide is the 3rd leading cause of workplace deaths among healthcare workers and professional service providers.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees. In 2016, workplace homicides increased by 83 cases to 500, the highest homicide figure since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What constitutes workplace violence? According to OSHA, it is violence or the threat of violence, and it can happen in or outside the workplace. It can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicides.

High-Risk Environments/Situations Susceptible to Workplace Violence

  • Places where employees exchange money with the public
  • The transport of passengers, goods or services
  • Isolated workers who work alone or in small groups
  • Vulnerable times: late at night or early in the morning
  • Working in high-crime areas
  • Known conflicts between co-workers – verbal, physical, angry outbursts and confrontations
  • Employees who are going through contentious break-ups, divorces or child custody battles
  • Employees who are experiencing domestic violence

It is important to note that workplace violence can be committed by people who are not mentally ill. Many people mistakenly believe that most workplace violence is due to mental illness, but statistics do not support this. If your workplace has seen incidents of physical or verbal altercations, it is probably time to review your Workplace Violence policy with all your employees.

Train Employees to Recognize Warning Signs

Training employees to be alert to warning signs of potential workplace violence can stop violence before it starts. You may want to monitor these warning signs:

  • Use of alcohol or drugs to excess that becomes noticeable in the employee’s behavior or work performance
  • Significant or drastic behavioral changes that include poor job performance
  • Depression or withdrawal
  • Constant complaints about unfair treatment
  • Ongoing violations of company policies
  • Mood swings and overreaction to criticism or evaluations
  • Paranoia
  • Co-workers dealing with ongoing domestic violence incidents that begin to impact the workplace
  • Angry employees who have been recently terminated against their will
Perform a Workplace Analysis

An analysis of your workplace is necessary to understand where your workplace violence prevention training should focus on.  Answer these questions to see how high your risk is:

  • Has there been violence in your workplace before?
  • When, what kind, and who was involved?
  • How was it handled?
  • What systems of workplace violence prevention were put in place after the incident? Were they effective?
  • If there have been no violent incidents in your company’s history, what are you doing well?
  • Are there gaps in your workplace violence policies? Where?
  • How safe is the physical environment? Which doors stay locked?
  • How are employees protected if they leave late at night?
  • Are there plenty of exits, escape routes, or safe areas available to your employees once a violent incident begins?

Create an Action Plan, Share It with Employees, and do a Practice Drill

Has your company experienced an violent incident or a shooter simulation/lockdown drill?  No one wants to think about this worst-case scenario, but having an action plan in place could save lives. To understand if your company is at high risk for any type of workplace violence, of if your company has experienced any questionable incidents, call the HR experts at Cardinal Services to discuss your situation and to help you implement a company policy. Do it now!