Blog Posts: Workplace Violence
As horrific and unfortunate as it was, last December’s school shooting in Newtown, CT has brought about a significant increase in public awareness of mental-health and public-safety issues. These issues affect not just schools but extend into the workplace as well. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fact sheet, workplace violence ranges from verbal abuse, threats and intimidation to physical acts that may result in injuries or even death to the victims. Nearly two million reports of workplace violence are received each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there were 506 homicides in U.S. workplaces in 2010. Workplace violence can occur in any type of workplace and in any industry.
Which employees are most at risk of becoming victims of violent attacks? The first answers that spring to mind might be employees who work in high-crime neighborhoods; those who work with violent or unstable people, such as prison populations; those who work directly with the public; or those who transport or guard valuable items. While employees who work in those situations are certainly at risk of on-the-job violence, they are not the only ones. Among the most common perpetrators of violence against employees are other employees, according to a recent study by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) of federal government workers.
A new directive from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses workplace violence, calling it “a recognized hazard in nursing and residential care facilities.” OSHA officials who inspect these facilities are instructed to “investigate for the potential or existence” of incidents of workplace violence during their regular investigations. This instruction also applies to worksites in other industries that have a high incidence of workplace violence.
Violence, unfortunately, is common in the American workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million U.S. workers report being victims of workplace violence every year, and many more attacks occur that are not reported. Homicide, shockingly, is the leading cause of death for women at work.