Workplace Violence Prevention

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?

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  1. Penny Schultz June 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Again, I agree 100% with Charles regarding a written policy. And yet written policies can mean very little unless they are consistently and promptly enforced. The horrifying story above brings to mind how important it is to screen and hire the right people…and to establish an environment of respect. Years ago, my sister was hired right out of college by an international shipping company to be the dispatcher for a team of trucker drivers. While most of the trucker drivers were true professionals, there were some that tested her with some outlandish and even threatening actions. They quickly learned that she didn’t hesitate to respond with appropriate disciplinary actions. Maneuvering through labor unions and policies, within a year, she had a solid, high performing team of truck drivers with minimal conflicts.

  2. noinsurance November 19, 2016 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    My good friend and colleague, Corri DiBagno, offered this experience –

    “This topic is most appropriate as the workplace, for the most part, is an ever changing environment and violence can happen at a moment’s notice.

    I recall a most graphic and tragic tale involving a transportation (long haul trucking risk) account insured. They had a personnel director that would “cast insulting remarks” toward the spouses of employees. One day, coming off a two day drive, a trucker overheard this H.R. person belittle his wife. Rather than confront the H.R. person at that moment, he went to his truck, returned with his .357 magnum handgun & shot the chap…..dead!! The insurer for both the A D & D policy and the W.C., of course, paid the limit. The shooter, as he was being led from the warehouse in cuffs, said for all to hear “That will shut his rotten mouth, once and for all”!!

    The owner of this trucker firm was well aware of this employee’s “belittling style” and did not address it. This behavior certainly was no reason to get him killed…..however, perhaps with some coaching or better involved management, it could have been prevented?”

    Thanks to Corri for another great story, bringing a Tip to life.

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