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Violence in the Workplace Overview

Learning Objectives

  • As a result of completing this lesson, the learner will be able to recognize workplace violence and identify measures to prevent it.

Available in English

5 Minutes

In this lesson, the student will learn what workplace violence is, which occupations are at increased risk for workplace violence, the categories of perpetrators of workplace violence, precautions to help prevent workplace violence, the warning signs of violent behavior and how to respond them, how to respond to a violent event occurring, and what to do after a violent event occurs.

Who is at risk of workplace violence?

Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported. Research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites. Such factors include exchanging money with the public and working with volatile, unstable people. Working alone or in isolated areas may also contribute to the potential for violence. Providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of violence. Additionally, time of day and location of work, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates, are also risk factors that should be considered when addressing issues of workplace violence. Among those with higher-risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.

Workplace violence also includes domestic violence that spills over into the workplace, brandishing a weapon while at work or on company property, and acts of revenge by current and former employees.

The most vulnerable workers are those who:

  •          Exchange money with the public;
  •          Deliver passengers, goods, or services;
  •          Work alone or in small groups during late night or early morning hours;
  •          Work in high-crime areas;
  •          Work in healthcare and social services
  •          Work in community settings and homes where they have  extensive contact with the public.
  • Workplace Violence: A Report to the Nation, February 2001, The University of Iowa
  • OSHA Fact Sheet, Workplace Violence
  • OSHA Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care and Social Service Workers