Violence at Work
Article From Tanner Employee Assistance Program (EAP) "Tanner Tracks" Newsletter
Violence At Work
We live in a world where violence is a common phenomenon. It is not surprising that violence at work is also on the rise. Many individuals are increasingly experiencing assaults, threats, verbal abuse and other forms of violence at work. How can you, as an employee, protect yourself from violence at work?
What do we mean by workplace violence?
Most likely, you've heard or read about workplace shooting rampages. While the chances of ever witnessing a homicide at work are remote, it is important to understand that workplace violence includes many forms, homicide being the extreme. Assaults, threats and harassment are other forms of violence.
There are three types of violence: attacks, threats, and harassment.
Attack - To attack is to use force against another in order to harm.
Threat - Threats involve an expression of one's intention to inflict injury or harm.
Harassment - Harassment involves behaviors that are designed to trouble or worry the victim
SCOPE OF WORKPLACE VIOLENCE
One out of four employees was harassed, threatened or attacked:
- 2 million workers were physically attacked.
- 6 million workers were threatened.
- 16 million were harassed.
Source: Annual estimate based on the Northwestern National Life Insurance Survey
All forms of violence are damaging. When we feel threatened, we cannot focus on work. The damage caused by a physical assault may be obvious, but evidence from medical science demonstrates that threats and harassment can also leave us emotionally injured and physically ill. Additionally, those who commit murder or physical assaults in the workplace often engage in threats and harassing behaviors before violently errupting. While threats and harassment alone can be harmful, they also can be warning signs to possible greater violence.
Protecting yourself from physical assault
The best protection to avoid physical assault is to be aware of the warning signs. Most every act of physical violence is preceded by verbal threats and/or physical warning signs.
- Warning signs in individuals which may precede workplace violence:
- Emotionally disturbed status
- Extreme stress in personal life circumstances and/or job
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Frequent disputes with supervisors
- Routine violation of company policy or rules
- Sexual and other harassment of co-workers
- Threats of violence
- Preoccupation with weapons
- Minimal support system
Source: National Safe Workplace Violence
What to do if you are harassed, threatened or assaulted at work
Report harassment, threats or physical assault immediately to the appropriate management. All forms of violence are damaging and must be prevented. Early intervention is the key to keeping a potential problem from getting out of hand.