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Safety Tips | Workplace violence

Violence among employees

August 26, 2013

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According to NIOSH, about 1.7 million workers are injured every year in workplace assaults. Workplace violence can occur among co-workers, and sometimes may involve former employees, NIOSH states. Fatalities related to this violence account for approximately 7 percent of all workplace homicides.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a public services union, provides signs of an at-risk work environment that could lead to violence among employees:

  • Chronic management or labor disputes
  • Frequent grievances filed by staff
  • A large number of “stressed out” workers
  • Rumors of layoffs or downsizing
  • An authoritarian management style

Risk factors for workplace violence do not necessarily have to occur at work. The following are personal problems a worker may experience that can lead to on-the-job violence:

  • Physical or mental health issues
  • Financial problems
  • Personal relationship troubles
  • Having to care for an elderly or sick relative
  • Child care concerns
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol

To help prevent workplace violence, NIOSH advises having all employees thoroughly evaluated prior to hiring by way of background and reference checks. Furthermore, NIOSH recommends comprehensive reporting of all prohibited behaviors among workers, including threatening, harassing, bullying and stalking. Workers also should receive training that focuses on clear-cut company policies and definitions of harassment, as well as what to do if they witness violence among co-workers.

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