Workplace Violence

What is workplace violence?

Workplace violence ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors. Workplace violence includes but is not limited to:

  • Physical violence
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite

How can workplace violence hazards be reduced?

Behaviors of concern can help workers recognize potential problems with fellow employees. If a coworker begins acting differently. Determining the frequency, duration, and intensity of the new, and possibly troubling, behavior can prove helpful. Specific behaviors of concern that should increase vigilance for coworkers and supervisors include:

  • Sadness or depression
  • Menacing or erratic behaviors
  • References to weaponry
  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Threats
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Inability to handle criticism
  • Offensive commentary or jokes
  • Referring to violence

These behaviors- when observed in clusters and coupled with diminished work performance (as manifested by increased tardiness or absences, poor coworker relations, and decreased productivity) -may suggest a heightened violence potential. It must be pointed out, however, that no single behavior is more suggestive of violence than another. All actions must be judged in the proper context and in totality to determine the potential for violence.

Care must be taken when dealing with what can be highly charged situations. Certain signs that may help determine if a coworker is experiencing such difficulties include:

  • Disruptive phone calls and e-mails
  • Frequent absences and tardiness
  • Anxiety
  • Use of unplanned personal time
  • Poor concentration
  • Disruptive visit from current or former partners
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries                                                                                                                  

Remember that all incidents are different and must be viewed on their own individual merits.

What is the process if I witness or experience workplace violence?

Report concerns to your supervisors or Human Resources.

Your employer will investigate all threats, incidents of actual violence, and suspicious individuals or activities. The identity of the individual making a report will be protected as much as possible. Your employer will not retaliate against employees making good-faith reports of threat, violence, or suspicious individuals or activities. Following an investigation, disciplinary action may be taken, up to and including termination.