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									Worker and Violence Protection of Workers in the USA Workplace

Written Safety Program Section 17: Violence Prevention OSHA 29 CFR 1910 Section 5(a)(1): General Duty Clause

What is Workplace Violence?
Violent acts, including physical assaults
and threats of assault, intimidation,

and harassment, directed toward
persons at work or

on duty.

OSHA Says…
OSHA requires employers to furnish to each
employee employment and a place of

employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to its employees. OSHA 29 CFR 1910 Section 5(a)(1)

• Type I: Stranger vs. Employee
• Type II: Client/Citizen vs. Employee

• Type III: Employee vs. Employee

Who Commits Workplace Violence?
• Strangers • Customers/Citizens

• Co-workers • Family/Personal Relationships


Workplace Violence Statistics

• Involves verbal threats, threatening behavior, or physical assaults by someone who has no legitimate business relationship to the workplace.

• Stranger typically enters the workplace to commit robbery or some other criminal act. • Comprises the majority of fatal workplace injuries.

• Involves verbal threats, threatening behavior, or physical assaults by someone who receives services from the workplace. Customers/citizens who are violent based on the situation and are provoked when frustrated by delays, or denial of benefits or services.


• Involves verbal threats, threatening behavior, or physical assaults by someone with some employment relationship to the workplace (past or present). • Any workplace can be at risk of violence by a coworker. • Typically seeking revenge for a perceived wrong.

Family/Personal Relations
• Involves verbal threats, threatening behavior, or physical assaults by someone who confronts an individual with whom he/she has/had a personal relationship outside of work. Typically a current or former lover, spouse, relative, friend, or acquaintance.
Motivated by perceived difficulties in the relationship or by emotional factors.



20% of women killed in the workplace are by current/former husband or male significant other.

Workplace Violence Statistics
Most common cause of violent acts:

• Personality conflicts • Family or marital problems • Work-related stress
• Mental illness

Workplace Violence Statistics
On the average, in America: • •

18,000 people are assaulted each WEEK 2 million workers are victims of workplace violence each year (OSHA)
20 people are murdered at work each week (equivalent to 3 per day)


36 billion dollars loss in productivity

Sources of Workplace Violence
• Bullying

• Domestic Violence • Hostage situations • Shootings • Terrorist actions

• Threats • Harassment • Assaults • Stranger on stranger crime

Effects of Workplace Violence
• Lowers employee morale and productivity • Fear factor drives valuable employees away

• Negative publicity drives customers away • Possible injury and death to you and co-workers • Negligence leads to civil liability. • Gross negligence leads to federal prosecution.

Who Commits Workplace Violence?
Those who commit workplace violence are often:  Delusional

 Pathological  Conflicted

Stress and Aggression!

Not everyone handles stress as well as you!

Three Steps to Safety
1. Be aware of the problem and make it a priority!

2. Be able to recognize warning signs and take appropriate action (including documentation) 3. Know the Company policy (Written Safety Program Violence Prevention)

Common Safety Concerns
• • • • • • Propping doors open Piggybacking (letting someone else enter after you in badge-secured areas) Failure to recognize strangers Failure to report (this can be a fatal mistake) Failure to document Thinking that “It can’t happen here”

Beware of Trouble Spots
• •

Reception area/lobby Areas where money is exchanged



• •

After hours Parking lots & garages

Risk Indicators in Employees
• •

Sudden/persistent complaining of unfair treatment Blaming others for personal problems
Sudden change in behavior

• • •

Deterioration of job performance Statement that he/she would like something bad to happen to XYZ (direct or indirect) Sudden increase in absenteeism

Risk Indicators in Employees
• Sexually harassing or obsessing about a coworker • Increased demands of supervisor’s time
• Alcohol or drug abuse

• Talking to oneself
• Instability in family relationships

• Financial problems – not getting raise/promotion • Poor relationship with coworker/management

Risk Indicators in Employees
• Self centered moral righteousness • Paranoid behavior • Deep belief that they are the victim of the organization • Fascination or obsession with workplace violence incidents • Fascination with assault weapons

Risk Indicators in Employees
• Sudden withdrawal from friends and coworkers • Vandalizes or steals from coworkers or company • New usage of abusive language or unacceptable behavior • Less patience with self or others

Basically, any change in an individual’s demeanor or behavior

Risk Indicators in Employees
Be aware of these workplace risk factors: • Chronic labor disputes • Understaffing • Layoffs/downsizing • Authoritarian/intimidating management style • Poor environmental maintenance (especially if they were neat and tidy before)

Risk Indicators in Employees
Be aware of these risky work practices: • Low or minimal staffing • Working alone
• Working late at night or early morning

• Working with money • Working in customer service positions

In addition to the risk factors already covered, we know this about those who have committed violence in the workplace: • Socially isolated/loners • Work is only outlet – opportunity to PROVE they are SOMEBODY
• Fascinated with military, police, weapons, violence, etc.

• Try to intimidate others

• History of violent behavior • Previous threats, direct or indirect
• Carrying or flashing a concealed weapon

• Quiet seething, sullenness
• Unable to accept criticism re: job performance

• Sudden mood swings, depression
• Sudden refusal to comply with rules/job duties

• Inability to control feelings, outbursts of rage

The Best Clues…
In addition to the risk factors already covered, we know this about those who have committed violence in the workplace: • Leakage: – Talk about it – they tell people – Make threats – verbal, letters
• Mind set:

– Record of workplace violence
– Unacceptable/suspicious behavior

The Best Clues…
In addition to the risk factors already covered, we know this about those who have committed violence in the workplace: • Recurring Themes: – Stress, hostility, fear – Moral righteousness
• Patterns of activity:

– Threats
– Intimidation

Some cases will have no warning!

Can we prevent workplace violence completely?
Unfortunately, even the most respectful environment can experience incidents of workplace violence

Can we minimize our risk?
Absolutely! Especially in three areas:  Environmental

 Administrative Controls  Behavioral Strategies

Locks Lights
Bullet proof glass

Counters Metal detectors
Restricted access

What others?

What environmental controls do you see?

Administrative Controls
• Escort visitors in restricted areas • Take extra security steps during higher-risk transactions (money, trip to storage area, etc.)
• Policies/procedures for reporting and tracking threatening behavior by customers • Communicate with employees about separations

Administrative Controls
• Employees experiencing violence at home should be encouraged to advise management (moving work space, alerting security, etc., an make a tremendous difference)
• Entities can petition for protection orders based on this type of scenario, even when the “victim” won’t

• Former employees should be denied access into facilities without management authorization and an escort

What administrative controls do you see?

Behavioral Strategies
Good Management Strategies: • Golden rule • Praise in public – discipline in private • Never humiliate/strip employee/ coworker of their dignity
• Intervene promptly

Behavioral Strategies
Three basic approaches: 1. Responding to disruptive, threatening, or violent behavior when there are no weapons or direct threats 2. Step one ineffective, individual does not seem dangerous 3. Step one response ineffective and individual seems dangerous

Behavioral Strategies
1. How to respond to disruptive, threatening, or violent behavior (no weapon or direct threat): • Respond quietly and calmly (try to diffuse the situation) • Do not take behavior personally • Ask questions (respectful concern and interest may demonstrate that violence is not necessary) • Consider an apology (even if you are not wrong) • Summarize what you hear being said – focus on areas of agreement

Behavioral Strategies
2. Step 1 ineffective and individual does not seem dangerous: • Calmly and firmly set limits • Ask the individual to stop behavior/warn that official action may be taken • If disruption continues despite warning, explain that discipline or police action is likely. End discussion, direct individual to leave • If individual refuses to leave, follow through with discipline or call police

Behavioral Strategies
3. Step 1 ineffective and individual seems dangerous: • If possible, find quiet safe place to talk, but do not isolate yourself • Use a calm, non-confrontational approach. Allow individual to describe situation and cool off.
• Never touch the individual to try to remove from the area.

• Set limits to indicate the behavior needed to deal with concern.

Behavioral Strategies
3. Step 1 ineffective and individual seems dangerous: • Signal for assistance • Do NOT mention discipline or police if you fear an angry/ violent response • If escalating, find a way to excuse yourself

Behavioral Strategies
What is the man on the left doing right?

What is he doing wrong?

Five Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior 1. CONFUSION
Warning Sign Characterized by bewilderment/ distraction. Unsure of next step or course of action. Suggested Response
• Listen to concerns • Ask clarifying questions

• Give factual information

Five Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior 2. FRUSTRATION
Warning Sign Characterized by reaction or resistance to information. Inpatient, sense of defeat.
May try to bait you.

suggested Response • Same as #1 • Relocate to quiet setting • Reassure them • Make sincere attempt to clarify concerns

Five Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior 3. BLAME
Warning Sign Holding YOU responsible. Finding fault with action of others.
Potentially hazardous behavior

Suggested Response • Disengage/ bring in 2nd party
• Return to facts

• Use probing questions • Create “yes” momentum

Five Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior 4. ANGER
Warning Sign Visual change in body posture or disposition. Actions include pounding fists, pointing finger, shouting. Suggested Response • Use venting techniques • Don’t argue or offer solution
• Prepare to evacuate

• Contact security or supervisor

Five Warning Signs of Escalating Behavior 5. HOSTILITY
Warning Sign Physical action or threats seem imminent. Acts of physical harm or property damage. Have crossed the line. Suggested Response • Disengage/ evacuate • Attempt to isolate person if safe to do so
• Alert supervisor/ police

Keep Yourself in Check
Personal conduct to minimize violence

Keep Yourself in Check
Personal conduct to minimize violence

Sometimes it only takes a small trigger…

Safety Basics to Remember
• Avoid strangers who approach you first • Notice undue attention

• Avoid isolated or dark areas
• Safety in numbers

• Remain alert and aware
• Plan a safe route

ALWAYS trust your instincts!!

In the Office
• Always keep your purse, wallet or valuables with you or secure them

• Check identity of all strangers in your office
• Always let someone know where you will be (lunch, restroom, meeting, late for work, etc.) • Be discreet. Don’t advertise you or your coworkers’ social life and vacation plans to visitors or callers

On the Road
• Plan your trip, have a map and use it • Carry a cell phone, know your location

• Doors locked while you drive • Car well maintained
• Stop/park in busy, well-lighted areas

• Have keys ready, inspect area & interior • Conceal maps, rental information, luggage

The Bottom Line…
• There really is no definitive strategy – Each workplace and location is different

– No guarantee of violence free workplace • Instead, we must… – Change the way work is done in certain settings – Change the way we think about workplace violence and employee safety – Shift approach from reactive to proactive

Workplace violence CAN happen anywhere, and we ARE at risk. The environment we create is our best defense. We DO have some control over these events.

• We cannot prevent violence altogether, but we CAN greatly reduce our risk. 85% had clear warning signs.

• See and hear what goes on around you – and do not be afraid to report suspicious behavior

Any Questions of the Safety Department

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