Violence seems to be everywhere these days. And, like many things, the meaning has evolved – from physical force to one that now includes threats, intimidation, harassment, assaults, and bullying.

Two million American workers experience violence each year, says OSHA. And that puts employers – who have a duty to provide a safe workplace – in legal jeopardy.

What are we dealing with?

The causes are many and the list can be long.

Psychologists talk about perpetrators who experience anger, drugs and alcohol, violent media, emotional crises and distress, culture clashes, public belittlement or embarrassment, and various mental illnesses.

Meanwhile, enablers, excusers, and minimizers help create an environment where no one is held accountable.

How can it get worse?

A lack of employee awareness and management training, specifically, alerting others to the signs and symptoms of inappropriate behavior, can all add to the potential for disaster.

Missing the distinction between a mental illness and unacceptable behavior can be the recipe for a significant lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The cost to employers – both money and reputation – is more than $129 billion a year, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and health (NIOSH).

What do you absolutely need now?

Employers must have a written violence prevention policy that includes:

  • Commitment to a safe workplace
  • Zero tolerance for violent threats or acts
  • Confidential ways employees can report concerns
  • Prompt, thorough and documented investigations
  • Appropriate and regular training
  • Expert resources to respond to incidents and investigations
  • An employee assistance plan to help all those in need


Just ask if you need resources for help with where to start.

What’s your experience?