The Department of Justice estimates that workplace violence claims more than 1 million victims each year. Other studies indicate the figure to be closer to 2 million people. The annual cost of workplace violence to U.S. business is between $20 and $35 billion dollars.
While you may think that violence in the workplace is random in nature, it is not. In fact, most episodes are preceded by warning signs. Your ability to recognize those warning signs may allow you to prevent a potential deadly situation from occurring.
- Know the traits of potentially violent people.
Ex: feeling singled out for unfair treatment; needing to be in control; believing that they’re always right; and/or exhibiting self-destructive or even suicidal tendencies.
- Watch employee interaction.
Do you have employees that exhibit jealousy, resentment of authority, paranoia or an abnormally high obsession with their privacy?
- Be aware of signs of psychological instability.
Ex.: dramatic changes in personality, withdrawal or depression, extreme stress, intense guilt or shame, excessive self-criticism or hopelessness.
- Familiarize yourself with late-stage indications of violent eruptions.
Ex: rapid breathing, broken speech patterns, shaking and abnormal sweating. On the flip side, someone may simply seem detached and distant wearing a blank expression or demonstrating an inability to concentrate.
- NEVER IGNORE A THREAT. It’s better to be safe and report all threats and possible indications of violence to the authorities. All too often, threats of violence are ignored or brushed off with tragic consequences.
ASIS International, an association of security professionals, has produced a guideline that presents practical definitions of workplace violence and a classification of the relationship between perpetrators and victims. It outlines prevention strategies and procedures for detecting, investigating, and following up on threats or violent incidents that take place in the workplace. Click on the link to download: “Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Guideline“.
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