Preventing Workplace Violence


Violence in America seems like it’s here to stay. One area of big concern to a lot of us is the workplace. Forbes says violence in the workplace costs businesses $250-330 billion a year.

While some companies avoid incidents altogether, not all are immune. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in 2019 some 20,870 employees reported trauma from incidents in the workplace that were non-fatal.

Of those individuals:

  • *68% were female
  • *65% were age 25 to 54
  • *70% worked in areas of healthcare and social assistance
  • *41% were nurses
  • *Others most likely to experience abuse are teachers, bank employees, veterinarians, taxi drivers and transit drivers

    All report experiencing bullying, incivility or other acts of violence. The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) says there are four types of workplace violence:

    Type 1: Criminal intent like shoplifting, robbery, mobs robbing stores, acts of terrorism

    Type 2: Customer violence from a relationship between individuals & the business

    Type 3: Worker-to-worker violence involving current or former workers with a grudge

    Type 4: Violence from a personal relationship within the workplace

    When it comes to type four, Kimberly Olszewski, the director of provider and client services at DISA Global Solutions, says employers should look for problem signs. Identify them early and the employee involved can be treated and their problems managed. Here’s what to look for:

  • *Escalating mental health and substance abuse issues
  • *A workplace bully becoming more aggressive
  • *A disgruntled employee looking for revenge against another employee or the employer
  • *People who don’t feel they have anything to lose because of a life-changing issue
  • *Signs of depression, or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol
  • *Outbursts of anger bordering on, or that can be defined as, explosive
  • *Comments about suicide
  • *Personal appearance deteriorating
  • *Increased interest in firearms and other weapons, and violence incidents
  • *Sending cyber texts and offensive emails

    Olszewski says certain times of the year are more stressful than others. You know them. Tax time. The holiday season. Paydays. Then there are personal ones like divorce, death in the family, an auto being repossessed, or utilities cut off, etc.

    OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) says there are resources employers can employ to help mitigate risks. One is to create a workplace violence protection program. Within that program:

  • *Create a clearly-written workplace violence policy statement
  • *Put together a threat assessment team to ID risks & processes to address problems
  • *Do an assessment of issues that need addressed in the company
  • *Train and educate employees
  • *Put procedures in place to report and investigate employees with potential problems

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