Since 2014, the American workforce has experienced over a million violent crimes every year. Per the Department of Labor Statistics, in 2020 alone, more than 20,000 workers in private industry were subjected to assault resulting in lost workdays, and 392 workers were victims of workplace homicide. In 2021, the number of fatalities rose to 481.
Workplace violence not only takes a toll on its victims, families, and coworkers, but also results in significant losses in productivity, especially due to missed workdays. Other ways in which workplace violence impacts productivity is by increasing employees’ stress and burnout, which often lead to greater workforce turnover.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) considers four types of incidents to fall under the umbrella of workplace violence: criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, and domestic relations. The variety of scenarios that can give rise to violence in the workplace must be an important consideration for any business updating its policies, procedures, and mitigation/response plans in order to enhance the safety of its workers. This is especially true because violent workplace incidents can be perpetrated both by outsiders—be it vandals and criminals or aggrieved domestic partners—and by current or former employees.
While certain industries, like retail, transportation, and health care, are particularly vulnerable to workforce violence due to high stress and high levels of interaction with the public, workplace violence has plagued virtually every corner of the American economy. Therefore, when we think about workplace violence, we need to consider it in the context of what is currently happening in our society at large.
2022 meta meta-study found that 58.7% of health care workers in hospitals and pre-hospital setting have experienced workplace violence
It’s not surprising to find that the current rise in workforce violence mirrors an increase in violent crime in general. The factors contributing to the current spike in violence are complex and interwoven. The main factors are:
In addition to the factors listed above, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new set of safety challenges for the business community:
Awareness of these factors is essential in realistic safety planning. Understanding your business’s vulnerabilities to these factors will help mitigate the threat to your employees, customers, and vendors and will create a more secure environment.
Workplace violence is a key issue for the current administration. Therefore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stepped up its inspections and enforcement recently, especially for industries where workplace violence is common.
While many state OSHA agencies have rules for workplace violence for specific industries and sectors, there are currently no specific federal OSHA standards for workplace violence. In its citations and other enforcement actions, OSHA primarily relies on the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act. The General Duty Clause obligates employers to provide employment conditions free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.
A 2021 study found almost 50% of teachers are interested in quitting or transferring their jobs due to concerns about school climate and school
For a workplace violence incident to be considered a “hazard” under the General Duty Clause, there had to have been some employer knowledge so that the employer could have taken preventative measures.
If you would like to discuss whether your current security measures are adequate according to OSHA’s guidance or identify impactful strategies for reducing the risk of workplace violence in your business, reach out to Daniel Pascale, CPP, CEO of COSECURE, and a board certified security and emergency management professional with over 25 years of experience in the field.
Dan is a board-certified security and emergency management professional, with more than 25 years of experience as a practitioner, consultant, instructor, trainer, keynote speaker, author, and volunteer leader. As CEO of COSECURE, Dan is responsible for setting the overall strategic consulting and business development strategies including lateral acquisition and identification of emerging markets. Dan manages a team of security professionals, former federal, state and local law enforcement, military and emergency management officials with unparalleled skills in physical security, cybersecurity and compliance, emergency preparedness & business continuity. The COSECURE team tailors services to serve the largest of Fortune 100 companies, hospitals, universities, K-12 schools, and government entities, as well as small businesses and home offices. Contact Dan →
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