Staying Safe from Workplace Violence

September 13, 2023
Staying safe from workplace violence safety training image

Every year, thousands of American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. In 2020, assaults resulted in 20,050 injuries and 392 fatalities, according to Injury Facts from the National Safety Council (NSC). Assault is the fifth leading cause of workplace deaths. Certain industries, including healthcare, service providers, and education, are more prone to violence than others. Taxi drivers, for example, are more than 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job than other workers, according to OSHA. However, workplace violence can happen anywhere.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, workplace violence falls into four categories: criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, and personal relationship — which overwhelmingly targets women.

Managers and safety professionals at every workplace should develop a policy on violence that includes:

  • Employee training and the creation of an emergency action plan
  • Conducting mock training exercises with local law enforcement
  • Adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence

Safety technologies play an important role in reducing workplace violence. Implementing strategies and technologies such as weapons detection systems, panic buttons, cameras, and more can help you prevent, mitigate, and react to incidents of violence.

Some people commit violence because of revenge, robbery, or ideology – with or without a component of mental illness. While there is no way to predict an attack, you can be aware of behaviors in co-workers that might signal future violence:

  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Unexplained absenteeism, change in behavior, or decline in job performance
  • Depression, withdrawal, or suicidal comments
  • Resistance to changes at work or persistent complaining about unfair treatment
  • Violation of company policies
  • Emotional responses to criticism, including mood swings
  • Paranoia

Most every "place" is somebody's workplace. Whether you are a patron or an employee, it's important to be alert.

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