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Workplace Violence Prevention

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 procedures.
  • 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 establishments.
  • managing violence by strangers outside the workplace with a travel safety program
  • 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 communication programs
  • 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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Cincinnati’s loss control services are free to our policyholders. Let us tailor a loss control program for your business. For more information, or to schedule a meeting with a Cincinnati loss control representative, please contact your local independent agent representing Cincinnati.

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.

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