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Facts on Violence in the Workplace
Voices VS Violence

Homicide was reported to be the third leading cause of death on the job for men and the primary cause for women.

Workplace violence can be generally defined as verbal and physical assault or any violence that occurs in the workplace even if its source is unrelated to the work environment, self-directed assault such as suicide is included.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. Intruder-initiated violence occurs when a non-employee initiates violence in a workplace. In cases of domestic violence, an angry spouse pursues his partner to the worksite and attacks or threatens her there, constituting a work-related crime.

Employee use of drugs and alcohol can result in reduced effectiveness at work and an increase in violence. Workers who abuse drugs and alcohol at the worksite increase the risk of engaging in intimidation or violence with co-workers.

Workplace violence leads to increased medical and stress-related disability claims, lower productivity, higher turnover and possibly greater legal liability for the employer.

Violence and harassment affect the health and productivity of victims and other workers. Psychological trauma can be more distressing than actual physical harm. Victims have reported feeling angry, fearful, stressed and depressed.

Job stress can be both cause and effect of workplace violence and harassment. Highly stressed workers experienced twice the rate of violence and harassment as less stressed employees. Threats of violence in the workplace were linked to higher employee burnout rates.

Improved interpersonal relations and effective preventive programs can result in lower levels of violence and harassment in the workplace.

The rate of workplace violence can be substantially reduced if employers:

  • Promoted harmony in work groups
  • Allowed employees adequate control in how they did their work.
  • Were supportive of employees.
  • Encouraged teamwork and supportiveness among co-workers.
  • Provided training in how to reduce interpersonal conflicts.
  • Handled grievances effectively.
  • Protected employees from harassment.
  • Provided effective security.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Homicide in Workplace. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Sept. 1993, Publication No. 93-109.

Center for Mental Health Services, Preventing Violence in the Workplace. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, March 1994.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1993

Center for Mental Health Services, 1994

Fear and Violence in the Workplace, A Survey Documenting the Experience of American Workers, Northwestern National Life, Oct. 1993

Workplace Violence, What To Do When Tragedy Strikes," by Robert B. Irvine, APR, Public Relations TACTICS, Dec. 1995.

Irvine, 1995

Northwestern National Life, 1993

Northwestern National Life, 1993

Information provided by the NMHA.