No one wants to think about it, but building owners need to face reality: workplace violence is everywhere.
Every week an average of 20 employees in the U.S. are murdered and 18,000 are assaulted while at work, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The Department of Labor estimates that some 2 million people are the victims of workplace violence each year – and those are only the reported incidents.
Although many factors are involved, the uncomfortable truth is that any workplace can have a violent incident. Having plans in place can deter or mitigate the effects of such altercations.
Learn the steps you can take to prevent violence.
The Triggers of Violence
When people hear “workplace violence,” many picture a shooter or terrorist, but behaviors ranging from verbal abuse, harassment, stalking, bullying, and threats of physical assault are all forms of workplace violence.
Eugene Ferraro, chief ethics officer and founder of risk consulting firm Convercent, Inc., says that understanding the motivation of aggressive people and their triggers is important. Feeling out of control is the most common impetus.
“The driver in these incidents is an attempt to restore control,” he says. “Violence is a form of regaining power, and violence in the workplace is an attempt to restore that order. Individuals rationalize that force or physical intimidation will put them in control.”
J. Michael Coleman, vice president of commercial real estate at AlliedBarton Security Services in Conshohocken, PA, says, “Common triggers that might precipitate workplace violence include terminations, layoffs, bad performance evaluations, and being passed over for promotion.” He also mentions domestic violence spilling over into the workplace and civil disturbances such as demonstrations, strikes, or nearby robberies.
Building owners and managers can look for certain behavior patterns in order to prevent outbreaks of violence.