As an employer, you have both a legal duty and a moral obligation to provide
a safe workplace. By instituting policies and procedures that prevent workplace
violence, you provide a safe working environment by helping to prevent loss of
life and injuries to workers. Your policies should include ways to identify
potential violence, procedures to prevent the occurrence of violence and plans
to respond to and mitigate further damage after an accident.
Workplace violence is any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal
abuse occurring in the work setting. It includes, but is not limited to,
beatings, stabbings, suicides, attempted suicides, shootings, rape and
psychological traumas such as threats, obscene phone calls, intimidation and
harassment of any nature.
According to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2002,
published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor,
workplace homicide was the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury in
the United States in 2002, accounting for 11 percent, or 608, of fatally
injured workers. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study calculates that workplace
assaults cost 500,000 employees 1,751,100 days of work each year, with an
average of 3.5 days off per assault. In lost wages alone, the annual total is
more than $55,000,000.
Threat Assessment Team
The first step in developing a workplace violence prevention program is
creating a threat assessment team composed of senior managers with
decision-making responsibilities in security, finance, legal and human
resources. If appropriate, include a representative of labor.
The responsibilities of the threat assessment team include:
- reviewing and analyzing all past incidents of threats and violence to
identify the types of risks faced by your company. Understanding possible
threats and violence enables your company to implement appropriate prevention
- researching the violence prevention programs of other organization
- evaluating your company's resources, including the use of outside
organizations, to respond to incidents
- developing a prevention policy
- developing and implementing employee training programs, and communicating
internally with workers
- developing contingency plans for responding to acts of violence
- communicating with the media and public
When contemplating what violence prevention plan is best for your business,
your threat assessment team may consider:
- preparing a program geared to prevent violence by strangers. Robbery
prevention programs accomplish this and often benefit retail
- managing violence by strangers outside the workplace with a travel safety
- addressing violence by customers, clients or patients in the workplace with
an access control policy and employee training
- addressing co-worker violence with a zero-tolerance policy regarding
threats and harassment and implementing employee training, assistance and
- handling violence by personal relations through access control, employee
assistance programs and legal measures (such as restraining orders)
Violence in the workplace is a serious problem for employers. Whether it comes
from coworkers, superiors, strangers, customers or personal relations, by
implementing policies to prevent workplace violence, you can provide a safer
workplace while controlling your risk.
Threats or other inappropriate behavior often precede incidents of workplace
violence. Therefore, having policies in place to identify, assess and respond
to threats can prevent violence.
As the issue of workplace violence has grown, safety specialists agree that
responding to workplace violence requires attention to more than actual
physical attacks. Workplace violence includes homicides and other physical
assaults, as well as domestic violence, stalking, threats, harassment,
bullying, emotional abuse, intimidation and other forms of conduct that create
anxiety, fear and a climate of distrust. Preventing workplace violence requires
an understanding of all these problems.
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Our loss control service is advisory only. We assume no responsibility for
management or control of customer loss control activities or for implementation
of recommended corrective measures. These materials were gathered from trade
services and public information. We have not tried to identify all exposures.
We do not warrant that this information is consistent with Cincinnati
underwriting guidelines or with any federal, state or local law, regulation or
ordinance. All information adapted with permission of Insurance Services
Offices Inc.; Engineering and Safety.