Workplace Violence

This course will cover:

The definitions of workplace violence

The Four Categories of workplace violence

General Risk factors and common prevention actions.

Definitions associated with Workplace Violence

Where can workplace violence occur?

Building or work area place, including offices, reception areas, hallways.

A vehicle, private or employer owned, when used for official business.

Remote sites, customers homes, meeting locations, and in home offices when used for official business.

Click on the scenario below the shows threatening behavior

Types of Workplace Violence

There are three main types of violence

Verbal Abuse/Threats

Physical Assault


Any of these behaviors alone or together constitute an incident.

True or False

  • Our company policy includes "zero tolerance for violence"

What are the four categories of Violence?

Violence by Customers and Clients

Definition: Assailant receives services from or is under custodial supervision of the workplace or victim.

Fact: These types of violent acts accounts for most non-fatal injuries.

The workers attacked typically provide direct services to the public.  In some workplaces, violence by customers or clients occurs on a daily basis, especially verbal threats.

Risk Factors

  • Work in isolation
  •  Work after regular hours 
  • Site has uncontrolled access 
  • Clients with past violent behavior
  •  Potential weapons visible and accessible, including desk supplies and heavy objects. 
  • Lack of quick communication capability to security 
  • Lack of escape route

High Risk Occupations  Customer/Client Violence

  • Drivers 
  • Social Service Providers 
  • Health care workers 
  • Teachers 
  • Sales personnel 
  • Law enforcement employees.

Prevention: Customer/Client Violence

  1. Provide a quick method to alert security
  2. Limit employees isolation with patients or customers
  3. Set up worksite so employees have easy exits and escape routes
  4. Eliminate the ability to access any weapons

  • Violence by Strangers, Violence by Customers or Clients, Violence by Co-Workers, and Violence by Personal Relations
  • Violence by peers, Violence by force, Violence by parents, and Violence by Strangers

Violence by Co-Workers

Any workplace can be at risk - the assailant is often seeking revenge when their perception involves person feelings of being a victim of unfair treatment.

Risk Factors - Co-Worker Violence

  • Staff Cuts - excessive overtime
  • Stressful workplace environment
  • Stress outside the workplace
  • Labor-Management disputes
  • Grievances
  • Personality difference
  • Lack of protocols for disciple
  • History of violent behavior
  • Lack of training

Prevention: Co-Worker Violence

  1. Know the organizations policies
  2. Prohibit weapons at work
  3. Enforce a no-tolerance policy for workplace violence
  4. Encourage employee assistance and counseling

A zero tolerance policy sets guidelines for unacceptable behavior.

Behavior does and can escalate. 

Don't assume someone knows what they are saying and doing is wrong. They need to be confronted by management and HR. Then they must be held responsible to improve their behavior. Avoid excusing them as just having a bad day.

Violence by Strangers

The assailant may enter a business appearing to be a customer, but their real motive may be to commit a crime.

Violence by strangers account for most of the fatalities related to workplace violence.

Violence by Personal Relations

Assailant confronts an employee at the worksite with whom they have a personal relationships with outside of work.

  • Personal relations can include:
  • Current or former spouse
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Relative
  • Acquaintance

Risk Factors

  1. Individual with history of violent or threatening behavior
  2. Domestic Violence offender
  3. Lack of providing controlled access to worksite. 

Any work place can be at risk.

Assailant has the tendency to be agitated by perceived difficulties in the relationship or by mental health factors that influence his/her relationships.

Prevention of Personal Relations Violence

  • Control worksite access
  • Report harassment, stalking, domestic violence, retraining orders
  • Relocate to safe worksite
  • Notify other staff as needed
  • Prohibit Weapons

Match the Type of Violence with the correct definition

  • Violence by Co-workers
    Assailant has employment-related involvement. Usually a current or former employee or manager.
  • Violence by Customer or Client
    Assailant receives services from or is under custodial supervision of the workplace or victim.
  • Violence by┬áPersonal Relations
    Assailant confronts an employee at the worksite with whom they have a personal relationship with outside of work.
  • Violence by Strangers
    Assailant may enter a business appearing to be a customer, but their real motive may be to commit a crime.

Five Warning Signs of Escalation Behavior

  1. Confusion

  2. Frustration

  3. Blame

  4. Anger

  5. Hostility

Warning Signs of Confusion

  • The person appears bewildered or distracted.
  • They are unsure or uncertain of the next course of action.

Responses to Confusion

  1. Listen attentively to the person
  2. Ask clarifying questions
  3. Give Factual information

Warning Signs of Frustration

  • The person is impatient and reactive.
  • The person resists information you are giving them.
  • The person may try to bait you.

Responses to Frustration

  1. Move the person to a quiet location
  2. Reassure them, talk to them in a calm voice
  3. Attempt to clarify their concerns.

Warning signs of Blame

  • The person places responsibility on everyone else.
  • They may accuse you or hold you responsible
  • They may find fault with others
  • They may place blame on you

Responses to Blame

  1. Disengage with the person and bring a second party into the discussion.
  2. Use a teamwork approach.
  3. Draw the person back to the facts.
  4. Show respect and concern.
  5. Focus on areas of agreement to help resolve the situation

Warning signs of Anger

  • The person may show a visible change in the body.
  • Actions may include pounding fists, pointing fingers, shouting or screaming.
  • This signals VERY RISKY BEHAVIOR.

Responses to Anger

  1. Don't argue with the person
  2. Don't offer solutions
  3. Prepare to evacuate the area or isolate the person.
  4. Contact your supervisor and HR Department.

Warning Signs of Hostility

  • Physical actions or threats appear imminent.
  • There is an immediate danger of physical harm or property damage.
  • Out of control behavior signals the person has crossed the line.

Responses to Hostility

  1. Disengage with the person and evacuate the area.
  2. Attempt to isolate the person if it can be done safely.
  3. Alert your supervisor and contact security immediately.

What should you do after an incident of violence in the workplace?

  1. Isolate/secure the work area
  2. Account for all workers and assure continued safety of those remaining in the area.
  3. Call 911 if an emergency 
  4. Seek medical attention for victims
  5. Report the incident to your supervisor
  6. Report the incident to your Human Resources Department
  7. File an incident report
  8. If you psychological trauma occurs call EAP for post incident debriefing
  9. Give a referral to EAP to the victim


How would you respond to a Hostile person?

  • Disengage, isolate, and alert your supervisor
  • Offer solutions, keep them talking
  • Attempt to clarify their concerns
  • Give factual information

What is the first thing you should do following a Incident of Violence?

  • Call your supervisor
  • Isolate/secure the work area
  • File an incident report
  • Call 911

Which statement is true?

  • ´╗┐Any workplace can be at risk for Personal Relations violence

True or False

  • Drivers, Teachers, Health care workers, and social services providers are not at high risks for Customer/Client Violence.

Which locations could be considered the workplace?

  • Office Buildings
  • A vehicle
  • Customer Homes
  • Home Offices
  • All of the above