How to prevent and respond to Workplace Violence?

Figure 1-1: Workplace Violence

In the United States, violence on the job causes injuries to more than 20,000 workers each year. Violence is the fourth most common cause of workplace fatalities in the United States and, at its most destructive, renders thousands of American workers permanently disabled every year.

The physical and psychological trauma brought on by this violence can hurt employee retention, absenteeism, lost productivity, property damage, healthcare, compensation, and workplace security costs.

If companies don’t take all reasonable steps to maintain a secure workplace, which includes lowering the likelihood and harmful effects of violence, they may even be held liable. Employers must set up procedures to stop violence in the workplace and deal with it when it occurs. The following details can aid in your beginning.

What is Workplace Violence?

Figure 1-2: What is workplace violence

Workplace violence refers to any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other disruptive behavior at the worksite. The scope of workplace violence can vary widely depending on the industry, type of work, and other factors. 

According to the NIH (National Institute for Health) and Safety, physical violence includes verbal abuse, threats, bullying, and violent language and imagery. Experts claim that verbal abuse and bullying are frequent indicators of developing behavioral issues that, if left unchecked, can lead to physical violence.

Some common examples of workplace violence include:

  • verbal abuse
  •  threats, and intimidation
  • physical assault
  • sexual harassment 
  • bullying
  • robbery or other criminal activity 

Domestic violence incidents can occur when a spouse, partner, or other family member targets a worker.

Early Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

Figure 2-2: Warning Signs of Workplace Violence

There are a variety of warning signs that may indicate an increased risk of workplace violence. These can include:

  1. Verbal threats can include statements such as “I’m going to get even” or “I’ll show them.”
  2. Physical aggression can include pushing, shoving, or other forms of physical contact intended to intimidate or harm.
  3. Intimidating behaviour: This can include glaring, shouting, or using other non-verbal behaviours to create a sense of fear or intimidation.
  4. Extreme mood swings: This can include sudden outbursts of anger or unexplained changes in behavior.
  5. A history of violent behaviour: Individuals with a history of violent behaviour may be at an increased risk of committing violence in the workplace.
  6. Abuse of drugs or alcohol: Abuse of drugs or alcohol can skew judgment and raise the possibility of violent behavior.
  7. Extreme or obsessive behavior: This can include stalking, harassing, or threatening behavior that is persistent and ongoing.

It’s important to note that these warning signs do not necessarily mean an individual will commit violence in the workplace, but they may indicate an increased risk. 

Employers should take these warning signs seriously and take appropriate steps to prevent workplace violence, such as providing employee training on recognizing and responding to potential threats and increasing security measures. If an employee exhibits these warning signs, employers should take appropriate action, such as counselling or disciplinary action, as necessary.

What key steps should you take to prevent workplace violence?

Figure 3-1: Prevention of workplace violence

Preventing workplace violence is crucial to maintaining employees’ safe and healthy work environment. Here are some key steps that employers can take to prevent workplace violence:

Create a workplace violence prevention policy:

Employers should establish a comprehensive policy that outlines their commitment to preventing workplace violence, the types of prohibited behavior, and the consequences for violating the policy.

Conduct background checks: 

Employers should conduct thorough background checks on potential employees to ensure they have no violent behavior or criminal activity history.

Employee training:

Employers should provide regular training for employees on recognizing and responding to potential threats of violence and how to de-escalate potentially violent situations.

Increase security measures: 

Employers should implement security measures such as access control systems, surveillance cameras, and panic buttons to help deter and respond to violent incidents.

Encourage reporting of incidents: 

Employers should create an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting incidents of workplace violence and provide a straightforward process for reporting and addressing incidents.

Respond promptly to incidents: 

Employers should respond promptly to incidents of workplace violence, providing support and resources to affected employees and taking appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrator.

Collaborate with community resources: 

Employers should collaborate with community resources, such as law enforcement and mental health professionals, to help prevent workplace violence and respond effectively to incidents when they occur.

By taking these critical steps, employers can help create a safe and healthy work environment free from workplace violence.

Responding to a violent incident at work

Figure 3-2: Respond to workplace violence

Responding to a violent workplace incident can be a challenging and stressful experience. However, this is how you can assist them.

Ensure safety: The priority is to ensure the safety of employees and others in the immediate area. If possible, evacuate the room and move to a safe location.

Call for help: Call 911 or other emergency services to report the incident and request assistance.

Provide first aid: If anyone has been injured, provide first aid until emergency services arrive.

Gather information: Collect as much information about the incident as possible, including the perpetrator’s identity, nature, and any weapons involved.

Preserve evidence: Preserve any evidence related to the incident, such as physical evidence or witness statements.

Notify management: As soon as possible, notify management or other appropriate personnel about the incident.

Provide support: and resources for affected employees, such as counselling or time off.

Conduct an investigation: Conduct a thorough investigation into the incident to determine the cause and identify any areas for improvement in the workplace violence prevention plan.

Take action: Take appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrator and make necessary changes to the workplace violence prevention plan to prevent future incidents.

Last Words

In conclusion, workplace violence is a serious issue that can significantly impact employees and the workplace. It can take many forms, such as verbal abuse, bullying, physical assault, and even homicide. Employers are responsible for taking proactive steps to prevent workplace violence, including creating a comprehensive workplace violence prevention policy, providing employee training, increasing security measures, and responding promptly to incidents of violence. 

It’s also important to recognize the warning signs that may indicate an increased risk of workplace violence and take appropriate action to address them. By taking these steps, employers can help create a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. Stay safe and learn more about health-related continuing education, go to