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May 17, 2018

How to Prepare for Violence in the Workplace

Violence in the workplace: How to prepare for it

Violence in the workplace is a sobering reality. Despite the prevalence of an “It can’t happen to me,” or “That can’t happen here,” attitude, the truth is that workplace violence can happen anywhere and can be devastating for the employees and staff.

Does your company have protocols for dealing with violence in the workplace and do you know what the plan is for handling disgruntled customers or coworkers? Are you prepared?

Why should companies prepare for violence in the workplace?

Statistics on violence in the workplace in the US

  • 2nd leading cause of on-the-job fatalities, behind automobile accidents.
  • Leading cause of death in the workplace for women.
  • 2 million American workers report being a victim of workplace violence every year.
  • Businesses are the most common location of active shooter attacks.
  • The FBI reports that 45.6% of active shooter incidents occur at a commercial areas with and without pedestrian traffic.
  • Costs the American workforce $36 Billion annually.

What are the requirements to avoid violence in the workplace?

 OSHA requirements for business: A duty to protect

If you fail to address the threat of an active shooter in the workplace, this can be considered a violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) under the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)1). 

This requires employers to provide their employees a place of employment that is free from recognizable hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious harm. OSHA violations can lead to citations, fines, lawsuits and damage to institutional reputation.

Recent court rulings throughout the country have allowed negligence suits filed by victims of Active Shooters to proceed against employers for failing to provide defensive training to their employees. In other words, companies can no longer avoid their corporate responsibility to provide training on both how to spot potential active shooters and on how to react if confronted.

Learn some interesting basics on how often to pay your employees. Some basics are not that basic after all, and reading this article may give you some ideas you never thought about.

Violence in the workplace checklist

The following items serve merely as an example of what might be used or modified by employers to help identify potential violence in the workplace problems.

This checklist helps identify present or potential violence in the workplace. Employers also may be aware of other serious hazards not listed here.

Designate competent and responsible observers to readily make periodic inspections to identify and evaluate workplace security hazards and threats of violence in the workplace. Schedule these inspections to be conducted on a regular basis; when new, previously unidentified security hazards are recognized; when occupational deaths, injuries, or threats of injury occur; when a safety, health and security program is established; and whenever workplace security conditions warrant an inspection.

Periodic inspections for security hazards include identifying and evaluating potential workplace security hazards and changes in employee work practices which may lead to compromising security.

Please use the following checklist to identify and evaluate workplace security hazards to avoid violence in the workplace.

TRUE notations indicate a potential risk for serious security hazards:

  • True or False: This industry frequently confronts violent behavior and assaults of staff.
  • True or False: Violence has occurred on the premises or in conducting business.
  • True or False: Customers, clients, or coworkers assault, threaten, yell, push, or verbally abuse employees or use racial or sexual remarks.
  • True or False: Employees are NOT required to report incidents or threats of violence, regardless of injury or severity, to employer.
  • True or False: Employees have NOT been trained by the employer to recognize and handle threatening, aggressive, or violent behavior.
  • True or False: Violence is accepted as "part of the job" by some managers, supervisors, and/or employees.
  • True or False: Access and freedom of movement within the workplace are NOT restricted to those persons who have a legitimate reason for being there.
  • True or False: The workplace security system is inadequate-i.e., door locks malfunction, windows are not secure, and there are no physical barriers or containment systems.
  • True or False: Employees or staff members have been assaulted, threatened, or verbally abused by clients and patients.
  • True or False: Medical and counseling services have NOT been offered to employees who have been assaulted.
  • True or False: Alarm systems such as panic alarm buttons, silent alarms, or personal electronic alarm systems are NOT being used for prompt security assistance.
  • True or False: There is no regular training provided on correct response to alarm sounding.
  • True or False: Alarm systems are NOT tested on a monthly basis to assure correct function.
  • True or False: Security guards are NOT employed at the workplace.
  • True or False: Closed circuit cameras and mirrors are NOT used to monitor dangerous areas.
  • True or False: Metal detectors are NOT available or NOT used in the facility.
  • True or False: Employees have NOT been trained to recognize and control hostile and escalating aggressive behaviors, and to manage assaultive behavior.
  • True or False: Employees CANNOT adjust work schedules to use the "Buddy system" for visits to clients in areas where they feel threatened.
  • True or False: Cellular phones or other communication devices are NOT made available to field staff to enable them to request aid.
  • True or False: Vehicles are NOT maintained on a regular basis to ensure reliability and safety.
  • True or False: Employees work where assistance is NOT quickly available.


Keeping violence in the workplace is not that hard if you can proactively work on mitigating it. As a business owner or manager, you should keep your employees well educated so they can be on the look out for signs and warnings. 

When done collectively and proactively, violence in the workplace can be avoided or kept to a bare minimum. Safety in the workplace creates a conducive environment for productivity and morale and in turn longevity and loyalty by your most important assets - your employees.

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Felix Mwania

I live in the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. I am a technology enthusiast but my passion is helping small businesses succeed, including mine.

When I am not working, you will find me goofing with my wife and kids. When not with family and/or friends, you will find me doing some home improvement projects.

Felix Mwania


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