The news stories air every day. More and more violence is visited upon us while we are working. Which begs the question, who’s at risk for workplace violence? Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults. And even homicide. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2014, 403 were workplace homicides. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/ .
Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported. Fortunately, research has identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites.
Certain activities correlate with determining who’s at risk for workplace violence. Exchanging money with the public tops the list. Also, working with volatile or unstable people is a contributing factor. So is working alone, in small groups, or in isolated areas can increase risk. Also, your risk is higher if you work in a place that serves alcohol. Further, working late at night or in high crime areas heightens risk.
Research shows that certain occupations correlate with who’s at risk for workplace violence. So, the occupations most likely to be at risk are:
- Delivery drivers
- Healthcare professionals
- Public service workers
- Customer service agents
- Law enforcement professionals.
OSHA suggests that one of the best protections employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. Further, this policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.
OSHA believes that a well-written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls and training can reduce the incidence of workplace violence in both the private sector and federal workplaces.