According to Bureau of Justice statistics, an estimated 1.7 million workers are injured each year in workplace assaults (that’s an average of 33,000 per week). During the 13-year period from 1992 to 2005, there was an average of 807 workplace homicides a year (15 per week).
Workplace violence arises from a variety of circumstances.
Some involve criminals robbing taxicab drivers, convenience stores, or other retail operations; clients or patients attacking providers in healthcare or social services offices; disgruntled workers seeking revenge; or domestic abuse that spills over into the workplace. More recently, the threat of terrorism has loomed over the nation’s workplaces. Yet, as pointed out by the Nation Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), most employers and most employees aren’t aware of the significant threat that on-the-job violence poses.
NIOSH notes a number of barriers to preventing workplace violence: A corporate attitude of denial, a culture of violence, a sense of powerlessness in the workplace, inadequate incentives or disincentives, lack of awareness, poor information, weak communication or training, inadequate resources, failure to report incidents of violence, ineffective follow up, lack of a written policy, lack of teamwork, and more.
Strategies to help prevent workplace violence include:
- Management and worker commitment
- A change in cultural attitudes
- A multi-disciplinary team approach
- A written policy or program
- An effective training program
- An evaluation of the program
NIOSH also discusses environmental, behavioral, and administrative interventions. Learn more about workplace violence and how to prevent it here.