The workplace can consist of natural dangers due to the tasks required to perform work duties. Police officers, firefighters, construction workers and so forth understand that with the professions they chose, there will certainly be dangers that face those who choose these professions.
However another danger that faces the labor force is workplace violence. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that workplace violence accounts for second most frequent cause of death in American offices. For women especially, in-office violence is the number one cause of death in the workplace.
To reduce the prevalence of workplace violence, understanding the warning signs, types of violence and employee assistance programs available can equip the labor force with beneficial tools and knowledge.
Types of Workplace Violence
Typically, workplace violence can divided into 4 different categories. However there are 2 primary types of violence:
- Physical violence – physical violence is actual harm done by contact to the body. This can include punching, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, scratching and so forth.
- Verbal violence – verbal violence is additionally painful and arguably more prevalent. Verbal violence can include threats, intimidation, emotional aggression or emotional abuse.
From there, the two types of workplace violence can be divided as follows:
- Worker on worker violence – this includes employees participating in either physical or verbal violence against one another.
- Client on worker violence – one of the most common forms of this type of workplace violence is a robbery situation.
- Member of public on worker violence – similar to client on worker violence where the perpetrator is not an active or past client of the business.
- Intimate partner violence – may be co-workers but not necessarily.
Workplace violence isn’t entirely preventable but knowing the warning signs can prevent some of it. First of all, understand that there usually are warning signs and that employees seldom suddenly turn violent without precursory behavior. Therefore look for these signs:
- Angry behavior and anger eruptions
- History of violent behavior
- Substance abuse
- Fascination with weapons such as guns, knives and sharp objects
- Excessive interest in violence
Additionally, a significant change in behavior can be indicative of potential abuse. Someone who typically possesses a positive or calm demeanor who suddenly begins expressing themselves differently could be experiencing issues personally that could result in harmful behavior at the workplace.
What to Do and Employee Assistance
First of all, reading literature regarding workplace violence is an important first step in prevention. Resources are often available in HR and social service departments in workplace offices.
When encountering a co-worker or employee who exhibits any warning signs, evaluate the severity of the situation before getting involved. However for some milder cases simply talking to the individual can be enough to turn things around, as the display of empathy can diffuse hostility or loneliness.
The best way to prevent workplace violence is by spreading awareness. By understanding the realities and prevalence of workplace violence, it is easier to see the warning signs and take care to do something about it. One of the biggest risk factors for violence in the workplace is denial that workplace violence could possibly occur. Understanding the warning signs and spreading awareness can result in diffusing a hostile situation before it ever occurs.