Workplace Violence has emerged as an important safety and health issue in today's workplace. Its most extreme form, homicide, is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States. Nearly 1,000 workers are murdered, and 1.5 million are assaulted in the workplace each year. According to the BLS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 709 workplace homicides in 1998, accounting for 12% of the total 6,026 fatal work injuries in the United States. Environmental conditions associated with workplace assaults have been identified and control strategies implemented in a number of work settings.
- 1 out of 4 workers have been attacked or harrassed
- Number of people attacked in the last year: 2 million
- Number of people threatened: 6.3 million
- Number of people harassed: 16.1 million
- 15% said they have been attacked sometime in their working life
- 21% said a co-worker had been threatened with physical harm in the past year.
Categories of Violence that Occur in the Workplace
- A person who attacks for personal/business reasons.
- Trends in downsizing, streamlining.
Angry Spouse or Relative
- This person may follow employee to work and create a disturbance at the worksite.
- This happens when violence is not focused on one individual.
- Robbery and other commercial type crimes towards place of employment.
Violence against Law Enforcement
- Violence directed toward police officers or security guards.
- Violent activity that occurs due to other incidents.
- Crimes that are ethnic, religious or racially motivated.
- Seemingly senseless acts of violence (ex. Oklahoma City bombing).
Characteristics of Persons who Commit Acts
History of Violence
of Violence in the Workplace
- Individuals who participate in the following:
- Criminal acts
- Domestic violence
- Verbally abusive
- Anti-social behavior
- This individual will demonstrate: Impaired reality testing; An inability to evaluate the external world objectively and distinguish it from inner experiences; Senseless violence, total inattentiveness to the environment and be grossly disorganized.
- Schizophrenia- Acute psychosis, may include hallucinations, poor insight, bizarre behavior (i.e. may think someone is controlling them).
- Major affective disorders- often present with delusions and hallucinations and are often mood congruent (i.e. depression is accompanied by delusions of poverty or disease).
- Paranoid states-Disorder characterized by delusions of grandeur and persecution, suspiciousness, jealousy, resentment.
Chemical Dependence - Alcohol/Drugs
Use can push subject over the edge. It may not effect their work but supervisor may know they abuse drugs after work or on the weekends. This could cause the person to act out.
Most commonly treated by counseling. One of seven depressed people will commit an act of violence against themselves or others.
Individuals who accept no responsibility for their actions.
Impaired neurological functioning
Individuals that have been diagnosed as those who were hyperactive as a child, have had brain injuries, or abnormal EEG's. These people tend to be less capable of inhibiting themselves.
Interest or obsession with weapons
This does not include hunters or gun hobbyists.
Personality disorders - Normal vs. Abnormal
Personality patterns become inflexible, impaired, and unhealthy. The personality traits become disorders. These people are very rigid and cannot be reasoned with.
Increasing Safety in the Workplace
Better Pre-Employment Screening
Training Programs to Deal with Stress
- Conduct criminal history checks
- Conduct psychological testing/pre-employment testing
- Always check references
- Train interviewers to be more skilled and thorough in questioning techniques
- All employees should be trained in methods to handle stress
- Promote awareness
- Provide training in effective communication
- Provide training in effective conflict resolution
- Promote awareness and training in identifying workplace violence