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Understanding the four types of workplace violence: What's your risk?

March 19, 2019
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When you think of workplace violence, you may envision a disgruntled ex-employee returning to their former office with a gun.

But that’s just one scenario. The full spectrum of workplace violence encompasses four main threats, going beyond current and former employees. Active shooting situations, physical violence, threats, intimidation and harassment all constitute workplace violence.

While workplace violence may happen at any business, it’s not entirely arbitrary. There are factors you can look for and address, though not every company is in jeopardy of experiencing every type of violence. Risk assessment should be specific to your circumstances.

For instance, healthcare has the greatest incidence of violence than any industry, so if you work in a health-related field, you may need to take extra precautions. Similarly, if your company uses cash registers, such as a bank, convenience store or gas station, you face a higher likelihood of getting robbed.

When you recognize what risks you face, you can prepare proactively to prevent greater catastrophes. Here’s a rundown of the four main types of workplace violence and strategies for approaching them that will help your employees stay safe.

1.    Violence as a result of crime
Example: A shooting during a bank robbery
Mitigate your risks:

  • Install a remote-controlled alarm system.
  • Review emergency and security procedures with your employees.
  • Check the local crime rate to stay abreast of threats to your area.

2.    Violence by clients or customers
Example: An angry customer threatening to hurt an employee
Mitigate your risks:

  • Walk the property regularly to detect damages. A building in disrepair, with broken windows or missing lights, becomes an easier target for unlawful entry.
  • Focus customer service on understanding upset customers and where they are coming from. A sympathetic ear could diffuse a tense situation.

3.    Violence by a co-worker or former employee
Example: An employee becoming violent after a performance review
Mitigate your risks:

  • Improve job screening procedures, such as asking about active restraining orders.
  • Put in place a company-wide weapons policy.

4.    Violence by domestic and intimate partners
Example: An abusive boyfriend showing up at work
Mitigate your risks:

  • Discourage personal visits at the office, decreasing the interplay between work and home.
  • Limit entry points to just one or two main doors.

To learn more, take a look at how to proactively improve your approach to workplace violence prevention. Questions? Contact us at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or call us at 303.361.4700.

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