Workplace violence has become a prevalent issue in recent years, with the problem further exacerbated post-COVID-19 pandemic as people return to work. Workplace violence is defined by the U.S. Department of Labor as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite” and includes actions ranging from verbal abuse to assault and homicide (U.S. Department of Labor, 2020). Notably, it includes not just employees, but also customers or visitors. Violence can be highly disruptive to the workplace and traumatizing to its workers, as written in Psalms, “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion” (New International Version Bible, 2011, Psalm 11:5). While official data only reports 20,870 non-fatal injuries and 453 homicides, it is estimated that an average of 2 million workers are faced with incidents of workplace violence annually (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health [NIOSH], 2021). This paper will examine common types of workplace violence and present solutions.
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Common Types of Workplace Violence
Workplace violence has been categorized into four types by NIOSH. Type I is criminal intent, with the perpetrator is only present in the workplace to commit a crime, they are neither worker nor client and criminal violence is possible. Type II is customer/client, with violence stemming from someone receiving a service at the business. Type III is worker-on-worker, where the person committing the violence is a current or previous employee of the business. Type IV is intimate partner violence, where an individual’s intimate partner in any capacity commits an act of violence in the workplace. Statistics show that Type II is by far the most common type of violence, followed by Type I (Babaei et al., 2018). At least 70% of workers will encounter workplace violence at some point in their career (Babaei et al., 2018). Workplace violence is most often experienced by professions working with clientele and customers, with healthcare and law enforcement being at the top. In work violence cases, non-physical elements are more prevalent such as verbal abuse. Physical assaults are less rare, although minor incidents such as kicking, or shoving may occur. Finally, homicides and sexual violence in the workplace are rarest.
Solutions to the issue have to be multifaceted to address the various threats that workplace violence can stem from. In the Bible, it calls to respond to violence with “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). Since Type II violence is the most common, strategies for its prevention or solution should be discussed. First, risk factors should be evaluated depending on the workplace. Certain worksites may be at greater risk, such as availability of money or drugs, others may require long waits from customers. Measures should be taken to the best ability of the business to resolve these, such as maintaining open accessible spaces if appropriate, keeping any sensitive objects and materials away from clients. It is also important to conduct staff training for all workplace violence types, particularly to teach employees to identify potential risk factors that may instigate violence from any given individual (SHRM, n.d.). Employees should be aware of the workplace violence policy and a supportive environment should always be maintained.
If a Type 2 workplace conflict has started, the best strategy is to maintain cool and avoid further violence or complication. It is best to appeal to the customer at the moment, attempting to appease them and get them to cool down. If there is a direct threat to employees, law enforcement should be notified. Otherwise, mediation techniques should be used that calm the customer and negotiate a compromise. Interpersonal communication skills are key in talking down a frustrated consumer that has or is ready to display some level of violence (Brann & Hartley, 2017). Violence should not be answered back with violence unless it is self-defense.
Babaei, N., Rahmani, A., Avazeh, M., Mohajjelaghdam, A.-R., Zamanzadeh, V., & Dadashzadeh, A. (2018). Determine and compare the viewpoints of nurses, patients and their relatives to workplace violence against nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 26(5), 563–570. Web.
Brann, M., & Hartley, D. (2017). Nursing student evaluation of NIOSH workplace violence prevention for nurses’ online course. Journal of Safety Research, 60, 85–91. Web.
New International Version Bible. (2011). Biblica, Inc. Web.
as little as 3 hours
SHRM. (n.d.). Understanding workplace violence prevention and response. Web.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2021). Occupational violence. Web.
U.S. Department of Labor. (2020). Workplace violence. Web.