When someone mentions “workplace violence,” what do you envision? An initial assumption can be far different than the reality. For instance, anyone can abuse (including females) and workplace abuse can take place in the very organizations that exist to protect people from abuse. How can that be? And what can be done about it? I’ll let the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explain…
- physical assault,
- threatening behavior,
- or verbal abuse occurring in the work setting.
“Workplace Violence Includes:
- Psychological traumas
- Harassment of any nature
- Being followed, sworn or shouted at
- Threats or obscene phone calls
- Beatings, Suicides, Near-suicides, Stabbings, Shootings, Rapes"
- Making false, malicious or unfounded statements against coworkers, supervisors, or subordinates which tend to damage their reputations or undermine their authority
- Verbal harassment; abusive or offensive language, gestures or other discourteous conduct towards supervisors, fellow employees, or the public
- Disorderly conduct, such as shouting, throwing or pushing objects, punching walls, and slamming doors
- Verbal threats to inflict bodily harm; including vague or covert threats
- Attempting to cause physical harm; striking, pushing and other aggressive physical acts against another person"
What are the risk factors?
- “Lack of...recognizing and managing escalating hostile and aggressive behavior…"
What are the administrative and work practice controls to implement?
- “State clearly to…employees that violence will not be tolerated or permitted
- Establish liaison with local police and state prosecutors
- Require employees to report all assaults and threats
- Trauma-crisis counseling
- Critical incident stress debriefing
- Employee assistance programs to assist victims
- Early recognition of escalating behavior or warning signs"
What kinds of records should be kept?
- “Incidents of abuse, verbal attacks, or aggressive behavior
- Information on [those] with history of violence"
What is the economic impact of workplace violence? It’s astounding...
- "Costs 500,000 employees 1,175,100 lost work days each year
- Lost wages: $55 million annually
- Lost productivity, legal expenses, property damage, diminished public image, increased security = $ billions”
You are precious cargo—when someone mishandles their responsibilities toward you, they are the responsible offender. If someone in authority claims to believe victims, but then does not take immediate and appropriate protective action, victims can report the workplace abuse to all known agencies in authority, until someone takes appropriate action—including law enforcement and the state employment security department. Victims deserve protection from those who are harming them, especially since an abuser’s actions never reflect who the victims are—but are a direct reflection of who the abuser has chosen to be.