Workplace Violence

Homicide is the fourth leading cause of workplace fatalities. While incidents of homicide and workplace violence have dropped in recent years, it is still a risk that safety programs need to address. Everyone should know how to identify workplace violence and address it if it does happen.

What is Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is any type of aggression. It is any physical or emotional threatening behavior. It is not just physical violence; emotional abuse also counts as workplace violence. Sabotage also classifies as workplace violence. Violence typically escalates at work. For example, someone will make threatening jokes before resorting to physical violence. It is important to identify actions that are threatening and can become violent.


There are different behaviors that indicate a person may resort to workplace violence. Employees, employers, vendors, and customers are all capable of violence, and companies are obligated to protect their employees from violent behavior. Everyone in the workplace should be familiar with behaviors that indicate violence.


Acting Out: People express anger in inappropriately.
Irresponsible: People do not take personal responsibility.
Self-centered: People do not care how their actions affect those around them.
Mixed Behavior: People say one thing and do another.
Inflexible: People will not take direction.
Avoidance: Employees lie, drink, or take drugs.
Extreme Behavior: People do not act like themselves.
Odd Behavior: People have poor social skill or obsessions.


It is essential that potentially violent behavior be addressed before it escalates. Always document questionable behavior and discuss it with the employee. Do not attack the individual personally. Simply address how negative behavior affects work, and ask what is causing the changes. Remember that people have bad days, and singular incidents are not necessarily an issue. You should, however, address continual or escalating problems.

If you know of any personal challenges that your employee is facing, offer training, counseling, or both. Monitor the behavior and if it does not improve, it may be necessary for a problem employee to leave. Make security aware of any troubled employees who leave an organization. Employees who are paranoid, antisocial, or preoccupied with weapons should always be watched carefully.

Implementing a Workplace Harassment Policy

A workplace harassment policy will help reduce workplace violence. A workplace harassment policy should reflect the legal definitions of harassment as well as the company values and ethics. Every organization needs to establish anti-harassment policies and procedures. Policies issue rules that all employees must follow, and they establish who is responsible for enforcing those rules. Policies make clear the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. There are four basic steps to create workplace harassment policy.

Drafting Policies:

Identify risks: Assess the risks in your organization.
Create policy: Create policies based on the risks and laws.
Approve policy: Review and approve a policy.
Evaluate policy: Evaluate the effectiveness of a policy and make necessary changes.

Once the policy is created, make sure all employees are aware of it. Hold meetings, and have employees
sign that they understand the policy and will abide by it. This makes them responsible for their behavior.


More About Safety in The Workplace

Managers Role in Workplace Safety
Safety in the Workplace Training
Stress Management in the Workplace
Identifying your Company Hazards
Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace
Writing the Safety in the Workplace Plan
Implement the Safety in the Workplace Plan