Workplace injuries can be intentional.
Violent behavior feels like the norm these days, especially after the 94th Annual Academy Awards and the Will Smith slap to Chris Rock that got everyone talking. Whether that was a sincere emotional response or a thoughtless (but effective) publicity stunt, the reality is that many people experience violence in the workplace. According to OSHA, “of the 5,333 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2019, 761 were cases of intentional injury by another person.” Beyond that, there are hundreds of workplace deaths each year as a result of suicide. “In 2020, assaults resulted in 20,050 injuries and illnesses involving days away from work and 392 fatalities.”
Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.
Though workplace safety is a frequent topic of discussion, we do not often relate violence to being a workplace safety hazard outside of job roles related to violent behavior, such as police officers, security guards or bouncers. Anyone can be threatened with violence at work regardless of age, sex or job status and incidents can occur on or away from the phyical job site. In fact, homicides are one of the leading causes of on-the-job deaths, with certain vocations being at greater risk ---particularly those who carry money and valuables while engaging frequently with the public.
2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year- OSHA
Does your workplace safety policy include a violence prevention program? Many company’s institue sexual harrasment awareness and traning, but employee intimidation comes in many varieties and must be addressed in all its forms.
“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.” -National Safety Council
A background check can alert employers to known violent behavior of potential employees. They should also be aware of the warning signs of mentally troubled, violent or disgruntled employees.
- Drug abuse
- Sudden, frequent absenteeism
- Signs of depression or mood swings
- Statements regarding suicidal ideation
- Extreme victim mentality or paranoid behavior
When threats of violence or incidence of violence does occur, take swift action to address the seriousness of the situation and stop the threat from escalating
- Implement a zero tolerance policy against violent or threatening behavior
- Record/Investigate every incidence of violence or threats of violence
- Provide a mental health/stress level evaluation for any employee who threatens violence or self harm
- Provide medical care for those affected by assault
- File a report with the proper authorities when violence occurs
- Be transparent and encourage victims of violence to seek appropriate justice by pressing charges, filing a complaint or taking other appropriate legal action.
At Workplace Safety Screenings, we take worker safety very seriously. That includes both workplace hazards, as well as workplace violence. Our safety plans include training for employees who interact frequently in public settings, high-crime areas or when employees travel to off-site locations with unknown hazards or threats. We can help you and your employees be observant and safety minded, to know when a threat has occurred and how to implement policies that minimize the risks of violence.