Assessing and Responding to Workplace Violence Threats

Workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide, and a proactive approach to workforce safety education and training ensures employees will know how to respond appropriately to danger. Recently, we teamed up with our friends at Insperity to present an educational webinar for clients. The webinar provided an understanding of workplace violence, useful tools for assessing your workplace and best practice recommendations. Below are some key topics from our presentation.

Understanding the Realities of Workplace Violence
Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. According to CFOI (Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries), murder is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a leading concern for business leaders today.

How are Active Shooter events related to workplace violence?

  • Active Assailant – using one or more tools in a populated area
  • Active Shooter – actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill using a firearm in a populated area
  • Mass Shooting – four or more people, selected indiscriminately, are killed
  • Workplace Violence – can include verbal threats, physical violence, or use of weapons

These four issues often go hand-in-hand. Some active assailant or active shooters or mass shooting events may have evolved from a workplace incident or threat, which is why the problems are often combined.

Work-Related Homicides
Related statistics to think about, the Bureau of Fatal Statistics conducts a census of Occupational Injuries every year, the statistics for actual violent deaths for 2016 show 500 homicides. A majority of those deaths are caused by shooting but there are other ways people were dying or killing each other. The most frequent type of homicide is perpetrated by either a domestic partner or robber. Coworkers, inmates, students, customers or clients are also a threat. The vast majority of these violent acts are coming from people that are known to the victim, primarily for women, where 43% of the homicides are from a relative or domestic partner.

The Department of Labor reports that victims of domestic violence lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S., resulting in a $1.8 billion loss in productivity for employers. Every Workplace Violence Plan should include a policy that covers Domestic Violence.

Related Risk Factors
The most common reason violence will come into your business is not a random assailant, but by threats, you likely already know about. Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.

Workplace Risk Factors for Violence

  • Exchanging money with the public and working with volatile, unstable people.
  • Working alone or in isolated areas may also contribute to the potential for violence.  
  • Providing services and care, and working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of violence.  
  • Working late at night or in areas with high crime rates.

Among those with higher-risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.

Key Elements for a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan
OSHA does not provide specific standards for maintaining a safe workplace; the agency recommends that employers adopt programs that address violence containing the following five elements:

  1. Management Commitment and Employee Involvement
  2. Worksite Analysis
  3. Hazard Prevention and Control
  4. Safety and Health Training
  5. Evaluation

Active Shooter Training at the Workplace

In a life-threating situation, immediate on-site response is imperative. Emergency responders should be considered as merely ONE element of a broader violence response plan. – (- 8.10.3 (5) ASIS/SHRM WVPI.1-2011)

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to response, which is why training is imperative for employees to be able to evaluate the situation and determine the appropriate response.

Active shooter training should include information on prevention, hands-on training, and an exercise component. We suggest three stages of training; because there is a lot to process to perform effectively under stress. 360 understands that this is not always possible in a workplace environment that is why it is imperative to work with the trainer to tailor the training to your company culture and needs.

Best Practices
Workplace Violence can happen anywhere. With proper awareness, education, communication, and training any organization can reduce their likelihood that workplace violence will occur at their location. It is important to have your needs examined by an external assessment, either by in-house security or by a security firm.

The assessment should include evaluations of:

  • Current prevention and intervention plans (if any)
  • Current employee training programs (if any)
  • The physical security of the organization's facilities

Every organization’s situation and vulnerabilities are different, and there is no single model for all companies. Every company should establish strategies and protocols based on the needs of the employees at each facility. Review your company’s general vulnerability to violence based on the nature of your business, your industry, and other factors such as geography, criminal culture in the area and threats unique to your business. From there you can start to build a program that fits your needs.

For additional information about workplace violence and prevention and intervention, visit:

  • The Department of Homeland Security provides resources on Active Shooter Response.
  • The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides standards on workplace violence awareness, education, and training.
  • ASIS International for standards and guidelines “Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention” by ASIS and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • Sample Workplace Violence Checklist OSHA: This checklist helps identify present or potential workplace violence problems. Employers also may be aware of other serious hazards not listed here.


To learn more about our services or if you are interested in us speaking to your employees about Workplace Violence, contact us today.

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